Anti-Tobacco Advocacy Group Alleges Ads Target Latino Youths
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has asked state attorneys general to investigate an R.J. Reynolds advertising campaign for Kool cigarettes and other promotional practices used by the tobacco industry that they allege target Latino youths, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports. As part of the "Kool Be True" campaign, R.J. Reynolds recently placed an eight-page color ad in a Latino magazine that featured musicians and the line: "It's about pursuing your ambitions and staying connected to your roots."
R.J. Reynolds spokesperson Fred McConnell denied the allegations. "Kool is a multi-cultural brand," he said, adding, "Do we want Hispanics to smoke our brand? Yeah. Just like we want African-Americans and whites to smoke our brands."
Anti-smoking advocates maintain that the low rate of smoking among Latinos makes them a target for tobacco industry ad campaigns. According to CDC, 15% of adult Latinos smoke, compared with 20.9% of blacks and 22.2% of whites.
In addition, according to anti-smoking advocates, tobacco industry ad campaigns that target Latinos often appear in Spanish and remain "under the radar" of the Federal Trade Commission, the AP/Chronicle reports.
CFTFK spokesperson Vince Willmore said that the group has asked FTC to request information from tobacco companies on expenditures for ads targeted at specific racial groups, but an FTC official said that the agency has no plans to make such a request (Wides-Munoz, AP/Houston Chronicle 11/17).