July 1, 2004
SUES MAKER OF KOOL CIGARETTES FOR TARGETING YOUTH WITH HIP-HOP
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.
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.