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Tobacco Giant R.J. Reynolds Agrees to Stop Selling Candy-Flavored, Alcohol-Sounding Cigarettes

Posted Dec 18 2008 8:12pm

Now this is good news.

Teens in the U.S. will no longer be lured to buy fruit-named, candy-like, and alcohol-sounding Camel, Kool, and Salem cigarettes from R.J. Reynolds that have such suspicious names as "Margarita Mixer," "Mocha Taboo," Mardarin Mint," and "Warm Winter Toffee."

Indeed, the tobacco giant entered into an agreement with the Attorneys General of 38 states to stop naming, marketing, identifying, and selling cigarettes that are evocative of desserts, fruit, desserts, or alcoholic beverages, according to an announcement from New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The tobacco firm also will put an end to pushing scented material, including scratch-and-sniff samples.

Hurrah to the many officials involved, especially ones from New York and Illinois, who spearheaded an investigation into Reynolds's suspicious marketing, promoting and advertising tactics.

Basically, the state representatives argued that selling flavored cigarettes violated the nationwide settlement with the largest tobacco companies in 1998 that prohibited marketing, advertising and promoting products to youths.

As I commented previously on this SUGAR SHOCK! Blog about a year ago both here and here, it's quite shameful and outrageous that a tobacco giant would use such subtle, underhanded techniques to hook impressionable young people on cancer-causing cigarettes.

In fact, a recent national survey by Buffalo’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute showed that these deplorable, reprehensible marketing tactics worked to nab teen smokers.

The organization found that 20 percent of smokers ages 17 to 19 used flavored cigarettes in the past 30 days. On the other hand, the approach didn't have the same appeal to people over age 25 -- in fact, just 6 percent of smokers over age 25 smoked the cigarettes, according to senior researcher Dr. Gary Giovino.

Again, kudos to all the officials, who worked to put a stop to this madness.

New York's Spitzer said in a statement: “Selling candy, fruit and sweetened, alcohol-flavored cigarettes is downright irresponsible, given the appeal of these products to youth. The attorneys general, together with the public health community, will not tolerate Reynolds’ shameful ploys to introduce our children to smoking and to lure them into a lifetime of addiction to its deadly products.”

Donald Distasio of the American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey also weighed in, saying: “Candy-flavored cigarettes can now join Joe Camel on the ash heap of defunct tobacco marketing schemes."

Thanks to the Associated Press for alerting me to this important story.

Also check out The Daily News Tribune's intriguing 2005 article, "Selling Candy to a Baby," posted on the website for Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, about this very abomination.

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