Attorney General Gansler Sues R.J. Reynolds
Use of Cartoons and CDs in Advertising a Violation
of the Master Settlement Agreement
BALTIMORE, MD (December
4, 2007) – Attorney General Douglas
F. Gansler announced today that he has filed a multi-million dollar
suit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for violating the 1998
Consent Decree that prohibited the use of cartoons and brand merchandise
in the marketing of its products. The suit was filed in Baltimore
City Circuit Court today and seeks monetary sanctions of no less
than $2.5 million.
According to the court
documents, Gansler says that Reynolds violated the Consent Decree
that approved the Master Settlement Agreement
(MSA) by using cartoons in a 9-page “special advertising
section” for Camel cigarettes. The ad appeared in the November
15, 2007 40th Anniversary edition of Rolling Stone Magazine. In
addition, as part of the advertising campaign, Reynolds distributed
by mail to Marylanders a “Camel - The FARM” music CD.
The CD and the associated website use prohibited cartoons to promote
“Reynolds is doing exactly what it agreed not to do - use
cartoons and distribute brand merchandise,” said Attorney
General Gansler. “The MSA contains stringent anti-youth marketing
provisions and this type of advertising is a blatant violation
of the MSA. Nine years after we thought we had seen an end to the
predatory marketing practices of the old days, Reynolds continues
to use the deadly charm of cartoons and merchandise to entice new
of the MSA are particularly disturbing given the company already
is subject to additional marketing restrictions
imposed by Maryland courts on the company after the 2004 Kool MIXX
Hip Hop marketing campaign.
Gansler has asked the
Court to permanently enjoin Reynolds from all further use and
distribution of the CDs and cartoon images
in any form and to pay sanctions of no less than $100 for each
magazine and CD distributed in Maryland, and each “hit” by
a Marylander on the R.J. Reynolds “The Farm Rocks” website.
In addition, Gansler has asked the court to order Reynolds to place
one full page, anti-smoking ad in Rolling Stone Magazine for every
page of the “Camel – The Farm” ad.
On October 16th, 2007, representatives for several state attorneys
general, including Maryland, met with R.J Reynolds officials to
clearly express concern over a number of recent advertising campaigns. Less than a month after that meeting, newsstands
across the country have been filled with multi-page cartoon ads,
aggressively marketing the Camel brand to a youth-filled audience.
“Reynolds continues to attempt to circumvent the restrictions
outlined in the MSA,” said Attorney General Gansler. “By
filing this lawsuit, we are holding RJR accountable for its egregious
conduct and letting them know that these deadly marketing practices
will not be tolerated.”
As of this morning, seven other states have filed similar actions.
Those states include: Pennsylvania, New York, California, Washington,
Ohio, Illinois, and Connecticut.
To view pictures of the ad, visit http://www.oag.state.md.us/press/camel_ad.pdf.
To view pictures of the CD, visit http://www.oag.state.md.us/press/camel_mailer.pdf.