October 6, 2004
SETTLEMENT OF “KOOL MIXX” TOBACCO LAWSUITS R.J. Reynolds Agrees to Significant Restrictions on Future Promotions
York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Maryland Attorney General
J. Joseph Curran, Jr. and Illinois Attorney
General Lisa Madigan today announced the settlement of their lawsuits
against the Brown & Williamson
Tobacco Co. over the marketing of Kool cigarettes. [Read the Settlement
had asserted that the company’s 2004 "Kool
MIXX" promotion – which was billed by the company as
a "celebration" of Hip Hop music and culture – violated
the 1998 tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) by targeting
African American youth.
was reached with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which acquired the
assets of Brown & Williamson in July. Under the
settlement, R.J. Reynolds agreed to substantial limitations on
all future "Kool MIXX" promotions, and agreed to pay
$1.46 million to be used for youth smoking prevention purposes.
"This settlement is important for two reasons. First, it
sends a strong message to the tobacco industry that we will not
tolerate efforts to market cigarettes to children," said Attorney
General Spitzer. "Second, this is the first time that the
industry has agreed to marketing limitations that are even stricter
than those set forth in the MSA, which will be helpful in future
enforcement efforts. Overall, this landmark settlement will reduce
the number of children who start smoking, and thereby protect them
from a lifetime of addiction and disease."
"As the nation's leading cause of preventable death, tobacco
kills over 45,000 African Americans each year. This campaign targeted
a hip hop audience, including youth. I hope this settlement sends
a strong message that kids are off-limits for tobacco companies,” said
Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran.
"The tobacco industry has been creative when it comes to
trying to lure our children into a lifetime of addiction. Since
the Master Settlement Agreement was reached in 1998, companies
have tried to get around the prohibition on marketing to youth," Illinois
Attorney General Lisa
Madigan said. "This settlement says 'no more.' No more cartoons
on packages. No more graffiti spray paint games on CD-ROMs. No
more advertising in magazines popular with teens. No more packages
that can be pieced together to make a puzzle." Madigan continued, "This
case demonstrates that for every trick the tobacco industry tries
to get around the Master Settlement Agreement, we will fight back
to protect the health of our children."
The "Kool MIXX" promotion focused on Hip Hop music
and culture, and included a wide variety of marketing efforts,
including: (1) Hip Hop DJ "mixing" competitions with
cash prizes held in New York, Illinois, Maryland and 10 other states;
(2) the nationwide distribution of over 1 million CD-ROMs featuring
Hip Hop music and interactive games; (3) the distribution of over
750,000 "special edition" Kool cigarette packs with Hip
Hop design graphics; and (4) the creation of a "House of Menthol" website
that had a flawed "age verification" system.
and Madigan all commenced lawsuits this summer, charging that
the promotion targeted children and violated the
MSA’s prohibition against the distribution of brand name
Under the settlement, R.J. Reynolds agreed to significant restrictions
on all future
Kool MIXX promotions, including:
• Prohibiting use of the words "Kool," "Mixx" or "House
of Menthol" on any merchandise;
the use of Hip Hop songs and interactive games on the CD-ROM;
• Limiting the distribution of CD-ROMs to "adult-only" facilities
and by mail to known adult smokers;
• Prohibiting the sale of "special edition" packs
in retail stores, and instead limiting distribution to "adult-only" facilities;
• Prohibiting the separate "House of Menthol" website;
• Ensuring that any "Kool MIXX" print
advertisements are placed only in magazines with relatively low
In addition, R.J. Reynolds agreed to pay a total of $1.46 million
to four not-for-profit organizations, to be used for youth smoking
prevention and cessation programs in those minority communities
that had been the focus of the Kool MIXX campaign.
Spitzer, Madigan and Curran applauded R.J. Reynolds for recognizing
the problems created by Brown & Williamson’s
marketing campaign, and for agreeing to correct those problems.
The settlement will be submitted to the trial courts in New York,
Maryland and Illinois, and will become final as soon as it has
been approved by all three courts.
The litigation and settlement were handled by New York State
Assistant Attorneys General Christine Morrison and Joy Feigenbaum,
under the direction of Consumer Bureau Chief Thomas Conway; by
Illinois Assistant Attorneys General Ben Weinberg and Paul Gaynor;
and by Maryland Assistant Attorney General Marlene Trestman.