Camel cigarettes return to print ads

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco is advertising Camel cigarettes in magazines again after a five year hiatus, drawing the attention of five health groups that claim the ads target teenagers. Ads for Camel Crush cigarettes, which contain a breakable menthol capsule in the filter, have appeared in at least 24 magazines published by Time Inc., Conde Nast and Wenner Media this spring, according to the health organizations.

A Camel Crush magazine ad

A spokesman for R.J. Reynolds, the nation’s second largest tobacco company, confirmed the return to print advertising, but would not elaborate on the company’s strategy.

“We advertise in a broad range of titles to communicate to a broad range of adult tobacco consumers,” said David Howard, senior communications director for parent company Reynolds American. “When dealing with brand marketing, you’re always looking to evolve.”

R.J. Reynolds stopped advertising Camel cigarettes in newspapers or consumer magazines in late 2007 after drawing criticism and lawsuits for an ad in Rolling Stone that was wrapped around a cartoon. During that same year, the company also faced scrutiny from some members of the U.S. House of Representatives over its Camel No. 9 brand cigarettes, which were marketed toward women.

Since 2007, R.J. Reynolds has promoted smokeless tobacco products in print, Mr. Howard said. Ads for the cigarette brand American Spirit, which is owned by Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, a subsidiary of Reynolds American, also appear in print.

The five health organizations the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Legacy, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association say the company’s latest effort appeals to minors because the ads include magazines with a high number of young readers.

The groups made their argument in a May 28 letter to the National Association of Attorneys General, which provides guidance to state attorneys general on a variety of subjects, including issues related to the landmark 1998 settlement with tobacco companies.

“R.J. Reynolds cannot be allowed to get away with yet another marketing campaign that entices America’s kids into a deadly addiction,” the groups’ letter said. Nine of the magazines named by the groups Entertainment Weekly, ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, People, Glamour, InStyle, Us Weekly and Vogue show a total teen readership of 12.9 million, the letter said, citing data from industry researcher GfK MRI.

“Reynolds seems to put a ‘kick me’ sign on themselves every time they make a move like this,” said Peter Hamm, of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. “They’ve come out of the box after five years of being dark to target a who’s who list of magazines that appeal to teenagers.”

Spokeswomen for Time Inc. and Conde Nast, which publish several of the magazines, said Thursday evening that they would try to respond but did not provide comment by Friday afternoon. A spokeswoman for Wenner’s Us Weekly and Rolling Stone did not respond to messages left seeking comment.

Magazines, which continue to face headwinds in print advertising, are free to accept advertising from tobacco companies. But the 1998 settlement between the four largest tobacco companies and 46 U.S. states, a pact known as the Master Settlement Agreement, created broad restrictions on the marketing of cigarettes, including language that prohibited the targeting of youth. In 2001, the state of California sued R.J. Reynolds, alleging it violated the ban by placing ads in magazines with high teen readership. Three years later, R.J. Reynolds settled with the state of California, agreeing to restrictions on its advertisements in magazines with a large number of teen readers.

The restrictions, which R.J. Reynolds’ Mr. Howard said were in place prior to the settlement, state that the company will only advertise in magazines where at least 85% of readers are 18 and older when data are available on readers older than 12. For magazines that offer only data on readers 18 and older, the company buys ads if the median age of the audience is 23 or older.

Lorillard, the third largest maker of cigarettes, has similar restrictions on its magazine advertising. The largest tobacco company in the U.S., Philip Morris USA, a subsidiary of Altria, does not advertise tobacco in print, according to spokesperson.

Magazines have continued to do well by tobacco companies despite the restrictions. The tobacco industry spent $125 million on advertising in measured media in 2007, according to Kantar Media, including $104.2 million on consumer magazines. Last year it spent $113.5 million on measured media, including $96.2 million on consumer magazines. Reynolds American spent $31.9 million last year across all its brands and products, Kantar said, including $2.5 million on Camel cigarettes and $29.2 million on American Spirit.

Advertising in measured media such as print is just one part of tobacco companies’ marketing strategy, which includes promotional efforts such as displays at retail, direct to consumer marketing and events.

In this article

  • Health
  • Media
  • PR
  • Print
  • Regulation

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Camel maker plans big e-cigarette push – cbs news

RICHMOND, Va. Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) is launching a revamped version of its Vuse brand electronic cigarette which promises to give users the “perfect puff” in Colorado, with its sights set on expanding nationally.

The expansion represents another push by a tobacco giant into the fast growing business, a trend that is expected to continue.

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The move announced Thursday by the owner of the nation’s second biggest tobacco company is its first statewide e cigarette distribution and is the latest in an industrywide push to diversify beyond the traditional cigarette business, which has become tougher in the face of tax hikes, smoking bans, health concerns and social stigma.

The Winston Salem, N.C., company, which sells Camel, Pall Mall and Natural American Spirit cigarettes, as well as Grizzly smokeless tobacco, did not disclose the exact size of the Colorado retail distribution set to begin in July or a timeline for a national rollout. The launch will include an advertising campaign, which will include TV spots a place tobacco companies have long been prohibited from marketing traditional cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes are battery powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution, creating vapor that users inhale. Some e cigarettes are made to look like a real cigarette with a tiny light on the tip that glows. Devotees tout them as a way to break addiction to real cigarettes. They insist the devices address both the nicotine addiction and the behavioral aspects of smoking without the more than 4,000 chemicals found in cigarettes.

While many smokers have tried e cigarettes, few switch entirely because “the products in the marketplace today just don’t meet their expectations,” Stephanie Cordisco, president of R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co., said in an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the announcement. The company has tested an electronic cigarette in North Carolina and Virginia for about a year.

E cigarettes maintain the “familiar ritual of the cigarette,” but most of the more than 250 brands available hand assembled and imported from overseas have taste and performance issues, Cordisco said. And unlike their Marlboro or Camel cigarettes that let smokers see the pack getting emptier, smokers using their electronic counterparts often can’t tell when they are getting close to running out of vapor or battery power.

Reynolds believes its updated electronic cigarette “delivers on what smokers want,” by addressing those concerns, Cordisco said.

The rechargeable Vuse e cigarette has technology that monitors and adjusts heat and power more than 2,000 times per second to deliver consistent puffs. It also has a smart light on the tip of to let users know when it’s getting low, needs to be replaced or recharged.

A single e cigarette and cartridge lasting about as long as one pack of traditional cigarettes is expected to cost about $10 and will include a USB charger. Reynolds also will sell a set for about $30 that will include one electronic cigarette, three cartridges and a USB charger. Additional cartridges in both original and menthol flavors also will be sold as a two pack for about $6.

The market for e cigarettes has grown from the thousands of users in 2006 to several million worldwide. Analysts estimate sales could double this year to $1 billion. Some go as far as saying consumption of e cigs could surpass consumption of traditional cigarettes in the next decade. Tobacco company executives even noted that e cigarettes drove total industry cigarette volumes down about 600 million cigarettes, or about 1 percent, during the first quarter, excluding Internet sales a major avenue for e cig purchases.

Altria Group Inc. (MO), owner of the nation’s biggest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, announced in April a subsidiary plans to introduce an electronic cigarette during the second half of the year. The company is expected to provide details on its product at an investor meeting on Tuesday. Lorillard Inc. (LO), the nation’s third biggest tobacco company, acquired e cigarette maker Blu Ecigs in April 2012.

In recent comments to an industry group, Mitch Zeller, the new head of the Food and Drug Administration’s tobacco control efforts, noted that changes in the marketplace have forced the public health community to wrestle with the idea that some tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes, may pose less of a health risk than others. The FDA plans to assert regulatory authority over e cigarettes in the near future. Public health officials say the safety of e cigarettes and their effectiveness in helping people quit regular smokes haven’t been fully studied.