RJR Must Reduce Profile in Teen Pubs

LOS ANGELES California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco “will significantly reduce” advertising in publications with large teenage audiences as part of a settlement with the state. In addition, the company will pay $11.4 million in civil penalties and $5.8 million to cover costs to the state.

The settlement applies to all RJR cigarettes, including Camel, Winston, Salem and Doral, and brands such as Kool, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall, which RJR acquired in a 2004 merger with Brown & Williamson.

Under terms of the settlement, if a publication’s teen audience comprises 15 percent or more of its total readership, RJR will be prohibited from advertising in the periodical, except under limited circumstances.

Also, the total number of teens exposed to RJR tobacco ads must always stay at least 30 percent below the adult exposure level. The settlement also prohibits RJR from skewing the advertising for any of its brands to appeal to youths.

“This settlement is an important victory in the ongoing effort to end tobacco advertising that targets our children and helps them get hooked on a deadly product,” Lockyer said in a statement.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Prager approved the settlement, ending a lawsuit that Lockyer filed against RJR in March 2001. The complaint said the firm had violated a master settlement agreement reached in 1998 between the state attorneys general and tobacco companies by placing cigarette ads in magazines that had a large number of teen readers.

—Brandweek staff report