Several public health organizations and women's groups on Wednesday called on R.J. Reynolds Tobacco to discontinue sales of its Camel No. 9 cigarettes, which the groups say are targeted at young women, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports. Reynolds in February launched the brand.
The company -- in an effort to increase its market share among female smokers, who made up about 30% of Camel buyers -- packaged the cigarettes in a "hot-pink fuchsia" and a "minty-green teal package" and advertised the brand with the slogan, "Light and Luscious". A new ad campaign for the brand says the cigarettes are now "available in stiletto," a longer, thinner cigarette, the AP/Times reports.
Cheryl Healton -- president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation, which oversees the national anti-smoking Truth campaign aimed at youth -- in a letter to Reynolds Chair Susan Ivey said that Camel No. 9 cigarettes are "nothing more than a veiled attempt to sell more cigarettes to girls and young women, putting them at grave risk for disease and a premature death".
Reynolds, which is working with the agencies Agent 16 and Gyro Worldwide, has promoted the brand by placing ads in magazines -- including Cosmopolitan, Flaunt, Glamour, Vogue and W -- and is distributing coupons and give-away packs at nightclubs.
More than 40 members of Congress, led by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), in a letter recently expressed their disappointment that 11 women's magazines were running ads for Camel No. 9 cigarettes. Capps in a statement said, "It's just flat out hypocritical to run stories about becoming more beautiful and healthy while promoting a dangerous product responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of people a year."
The publisher of Vogue in response to the letter said that Congress should create legal guidelines for cigarette ads, adding that "any other pressure or coercion ... is at odds with the basic fabric of our country's legal system." Officials from Glamour said that although they appreciated the concern for women's health, the "Camel ads in question do comply with the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement." W magazine in a letter said it would like to discuss the issue further but did not mention whether it would stop running the ads, the AP/Times reports.
David Howard, a spokesperson for Reynolds, said the company is very happy with the sales of Camel No. 9 cigarettes. "The colors and the packaging simply accentuate the style and the premium nature of the brand," Howard said, adding that "[a]bout half" of the brand's audience is male.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation