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For Immediate Release
July 1, 2004
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

CURRAN SUES MAKER OF KOOL CIGARETTES FOR TARGETING YOUTH WITH HIP-HOP ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran announced today that he has sued Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company (which manufactures Kool cigarettes) for numerous violations of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), under which Brown & Williamson and other major tobacco companies agreed to stop certain types of cigarette advertising. The violations arose from Brown & Williamson’s Kool Mixx 2004 promotional and marketing campaign. The suit was filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

Attorney General Curran claims that Brown & Williamson’s Kool Mixx 2004 campaign, named for the hip-hop style of “mixing” music highly popular with youth ages 12-17, violates the MSA and the Consent Decree as permanently prohibited forms of youth targeting, brand merchandise, placement of the Kool brand names in media, and brand name sponsorship of a concert.

According to papers filed by Mr. Curran, Brown & Williamson directly violated the MSA by launching a self described “massive” marketing campaign for Kool brand cigarettes to target youth in Maryland. In addition to creating an interactive youth accessible website and distributing thousands of hip hop CD ROM’s, Brown & Williamson further violated the MSA and Consent decree by distributing “goody bags” to approximately 100-150 persons who attended the Kool Mixx DJ competition at a bar in Prince George’s County on April 4, 2004. The bags, which bear the company’s logo, contained various Kool promotional items. Since March Brown & Williamson has shipped into Maryland more than 35,000 special edition packs of Kool cigarettes wrapped in hip-hop images and designs. “Kool’s campaign is doing exactly what Brown & Williamson agreed NOT to do, and that is target children and distribute brand merchandise,” said Attorney General Curran.

The lawsuit follows Attorney General Curran’s June 3, 2004 letter, signed by 34 other state attorneys general, demanding that Brown & Williamson cease and desist from violating the MSA with the Kool Mixx campaign including the interactive website and scheduled webcast of its DJ competition.

Attorney General Curran has asked the Court to direct Brown & Williamson to collect all remaining items in Maryland: hip-hop cigarette packs, flashing light retail displays, CD-ROM’s, radios, and the goody-bags. Curran is also asking that Brown & Williamson be ordered to run anti-smoking ads in all magazines in which its Kool Mixx campaign was advertised.

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