State Lawsuit Alleges Cigarette Ad Violates Tobacco Settlement
Prosecutors in California and at least seven other states on Tuesday said they plan to file lawsuits against Reynolds American over an illustrated advertising section in the November issue of Rolling Stone magazine, alleging that the spread violates a promise by the tobacco industry to not use cartoons to market cigarettes, the AP/Wall Street Journal reports.
A 1998 settlement between 46 states and the tobacco industry, under which the industry reimbursed states for smoking-related health care costs, included a provision stating that no illustrations would be used in tobacco ads.
The Rolling Stone section includes ads for Camel Cigarettes "on the theme of independent rock music" that fold out to reveal a four-page spread featuring "animals, imaginary figures and other drawings," according to the AP/Journal.
According to Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett (R), Pennsylvania, New York and Washington state were planning to file suits on Tuesday. Attorneys general in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland and Ohio also have said they will sue.
The states will seek fines of $100 per magazine distributed within their borders and $100 per hit on a related music Web site. Other states also could bring suits.
If every state involved in the 1998 settlement does so, the total fines could exceed $100 million. Corbett said the ad "flies in the face of their pledge to halt all tobacco marketing to children."
However, Reynolds spokesperson David Howard said the Camel ads did not contain cartoons and added, "Had we been aware of the graphics prepared by Rolling Stone, we would not have advertised adjacent to the gatefold." Rolling Stone publisher Ray Chelstowski noted that Reynolds had no knowledge that the magazine's pages would contain illustrations (AP/Wall Street Journal, 12/5).