Fishel says sales have been strong since Camel No. 9 debuted in February. But while that's encouraging news for R.J. Reynolds, it alarms some health advocates and government leaders. The product hit store shelves just as Congress began debating legislation to sharply restrict tobacco marketing and give the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate cigarettes.Of course tobacco companies want to attract new customers, whether heretofore non-smokers or no, to their brand. And as long as cigarettes are legal, why shouldn't they? In the meantime can we cease this faux speculation about their intent?
At a Senate hearing last month, Ohio Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown held up a Camel No. 9 ad that was mailed to smokers' homes.
"It strains the imagination to think this campaign is aimed at anybody other than 15, 16, 17-year-old girls — something that's pretty morally repugnant," Brown said.
R.J. Reynolds denies its ads target teenagers. The company says it markets only to adult smokers. At Tampa's Amphitheater, customers were required to present proof of age before they were admitted, and again before they received their sample cigarettes.
Still, some tobacco-industry critics remain concerned. Greg Connelly of the Harvard School of Public Health takes issue with R.J. Reynolds courting female smokers — especially the young adults who would be likely to read fashion magazines or go to a loud party at a bar.
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