TOBACCO: State Sues R.J. Reynolds Over Free Cigarette Samples
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) filed suit yesterday against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., alleging that the cigarette maker distributed free samples to Californians in violation of a 1998 agreement. According to the suit, which seeks to stop the samples' distribution, the company mailed roughly 900,000 packs of free cigarettes to 115,000 California residents last year without certifying the names of recipients or verifying that they were over 18 years old. As part of the 1998 tobacco settlement, the industry was banned from giving out free cigarette samples in California except for "consumer-testing programs and coupon-style offers" -- a provision intended to stop tobacco companies from targeting minors. Lockyer said he repeatedly asked R.J. Reynolds to halt the marketing campaign, but the company refused. San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald Prager is slated to hear the case on July 10 (AP/Orange County Register, 5/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.