Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate a cigarette advertisement campaign geared to entice teenage girls to take up smoking.
The letter was issued on May 4 and urges the FTC to investigate "advertising practices by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for marketing cigarettes to children." R.J. Reynolds launched the Camel No. 9 brand in February and claims the cigarettes are aimed at adult female smokers, a market segment where Camel has performed poorly.
But anti-smoking groups argue that the product - from its "light and luscious" slogan, to the packaging and the ads -- appears designed to lure teens or young women to cigarettes. Camel No. 9 cigarettes are advertised in women's magazines.
A copy of the letter is attached and listed below.
May 4, 2007
The Honorable Deborah Platt Majoras Chairman Federal Trade Commission 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580
Dear Chairman Majoras:
We are writing to urge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate advertising practices by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for marketing cigarettes to children. The company's Camel No. 9 campaign is an attempt to attract children, especially young girls, to their cigarettes - a product that is illegal for them to purchase.
The tobacco industry spends more than $12.4 billion per year on marketing and advertising. As internal tobacco industry memos have shown in the past, young people are a strategically important market because they represent the chief source of new smokers. Research has found that children are three times as susceptible to tobacco advertising than adults, and that children are more likely to be influenced to smoke by cigarette marketing than by peer pressure. One-third of underage experimentation with smoking is attributable to tobacco company advertising and promotion.
With its "light and luscious" slogan and sleek black package, Camel No. 9 cigarettes are being advertised to appeal to teenage girls' desire to be "chic" and "cosmopolitan." These cigarettes are currently being advertised in popular women's magazines, more than 10% of whose readership is girls under the age of 18. A report by the Surgeon General found that magazine advertising can lend an air of social acceptability or "stylish image" to smoking. Teenage girls are especially vulnerable to this kind of advertising pitch, as it reduces fears of the health risks from smoking by presenting smoking with positive images.
For these reasons, we believe it is time for the FTC to step in to protect our nation's children from cigarettes, a product that kills one-third of its users. While tobacco companies have a right to advertise their product to adults, the peddling of cigarettes to children cannot be tolerated.