New Camel Crush Cigarette Ads Are Aimed At Kids, Says American Heart Association

Are the new Camel Crush cigarette ads aimed at children? The American Heart Association and several other health groups have asked state attorneys to investigate the new campaign to see if it in violation of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

The American Heart Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Legacy, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and the American Lung Association are urging state attorneys to investigate the new campaign. The health groups believe that the company R.J. Reynolds has violated its agreement not to target youth smokers with its new Camel Crush cigarette ads.

The health groups wrote a letter to the Tobacco Committee Co-Chairs of the National Association of Attorneys General, writing:

“We believe that R.J. Reynolds’ new ad campaign does directly or indirectly target youth because the entire ad buy is reaching millions of youth and several of the individual magazines have large youth readerships.”

The new Camel Crush cigarette ads appeared in at least 24 magazines between April and June. The health groups noted that many of the magazines including ESPN the Magazine, Rolling Stone, People, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly have large teen readerships. People Magazine, which also ran the new ad, has more than three million teen readers.

Tobacco companies have been prohibited from taking “any action, directly or indirectly, to target Youth” since 1998.

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The health groups wrote in a press release:

“From 1987 to 1997, R.J. Reynolds marketed Camel cigarettes with a cartoon character, Joe Camel, including through magazine ads. Studies showed that Camel’s share of the youth cigarette market soared after the campaign began, and Joe Camel at one point was nearly as recognizable to 6-year-olds as Mickey Mouse. R.J. Reynolds finally ended the Joe Camel campaign in 1997 in the face of lawsuits, Congressional scrutiny, a Federal Trade Commission investigation and public outrage.”

R.J. Reynolds isn’t using Joe Camel in the new ad campaign, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t marketing to children. What do you think? Should cigarette ads be allowed in magazines like Entertainment Weekly?