HARRISBURG - An illustrated advertising section in Rolling Stone magazine violates the tobacco industry's nine-year-old promise not to use cartoons to sell cigarettes, prosecutors in various states said yesterday.
Attorneys general in at least eight states planned to file lawsuits against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. starting yesterday over the advertising for Camel cigarettes in the November issue of Rolling Stone.
The section combines pages of Camel cigarette ads with pages of magazine-produced illustrations on the theme of independent rock music.
"Their latest nine-page advertising spread in Rolling Stone, filled with cartoons, flies in the face of their pledge to halt all tobacco marketing to children," Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett said in a statement released yesterday.
Along with Corbett, attorneys general in California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Maryland and Washington said they would sue. Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe said he also filed a motion yesterday against R.J. Reynolds.
California Attorney General Jerry Brown called the publication a "rather clever piece of advertising."
"They agreed not to do these kinds of things ever since Joe Camel," Brown said. "We have to call them to task."
The landmark 1998 settlement between 46 states and the tobacco industry reimburses states for smoking-related health-care costs. In an effort to prevent the industry from pitching to minors, the agreement includes a provision against using cartoons in advertisements.
David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds in Winston-Salem, N.C., insisted that the Camel ads contained no cartoons and that the ad campaign was aimed at adults. He said the company was surprised and concerned by Rolling Stone's illustrations, but that R.J. Reynolds bore no responsibility for them.
"Had we been aware of the graphics prepared by Rolling Stone, we would not have advertised adjacent to the gatefold," Howard said.