2009-05-21 / Local & State

Pa. Judge Says Camel Ad Violated Tobacco's Pledge


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Camel ads coupled with illustrations promoting rock music in Rolling Stone magazine violated the tobacco industry's decadeold promise not to use cartoons to sell cigarettes to minors, a Philadelphia judge ruled Wednesday.

A spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett said the ruling is a full victory over R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and the first decision in lawsuits filed by attorneys general in nine states that ordered monetary damages.

An R.J. Reynolds spokesman said the Winston-Salem, N.C.- based company will appeal.

Judge William J. Manfredi ordered R.J. Reynolds Tobacco to pay $302,000 or run a full-page anti-smoking ad in a Rolling Stone edition that circulates in Pennsylvania.

In his decision, Manfredi said R.J. Reynolds violated its pledge not to pitch cigarettes to children because the Rolling Stoneproduced and placed illustrations were cartoons and the cigarette maker should have avoided their placement next to a Camel ad.

"Because R.J. Reynolds had the ability and the duty to avoid such indivisible commingling of its tobacco advertising and promotions with such indisputable cartoons, the advertisement must be deemed to be in violation of the Consent Decree and the Master Settlement Agreement,'' Manfredi wrote.

A landmark 1998 settlement between 46 states and the tobacco industry includes a provision against using cartoons in advertisements to prevent them from appealing to minors.

In question is a Camel ad in Rolling Stone's November 2007 edition.

The cigarette ads in Rolling Stone touted Camel's "The Farm: Free Range Music'' campaign and support for independent record labels while using photographic images of people in 1950s dress, farm animals, an oldfashioned tractor and furnishings like a phonograph against a farm backdrop. Those pages fold out to reveal a four-page illustrated spread of an "Indie Rock Universe'' with animals, imaginary beings and other drawings.

R.J. Reynolds' defense has proved more successful in other states.

Judges in Maine and Washington ruled in favor of the tobacco company. A California judge found that R.J. Reynolds violated the Master Settlement Agreement, but was not responsible for the ad placement, while an Ohio judge found the opposite, R.J. Reynolds spokesman David Howard said.

Neither judge ordered damages, but the company is appealing both decisions, Howard said.

Suits in Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland and New York are still pending.

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