US cigarette giant starts advertising again in magazines with millions of young readers

With Britain poised to ban cigarette and tobacco advertising by the end of the year, the second biggest US cigarette company is headed in the opposite direction: bringing back ads in at least 24 magazines after a gap of five years.

Camel Crush: Back in magazines

The magazines are published by Time Inc., Conde Nast and Wenner Media - and the company is R.J. Reynolds, makers of Camel cigarettes.

A spokesman confirmed to the Wall Street Journal the return to print advertising, but would not spell out 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 the tobacco firm. "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.

Five US 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- all say the company's latest effort appeals to minors because the ads include magazines with a high number of young readers.

The organisations wrote this week to the National Association of Attorneys General, "R.J. Reynolds cannot be allowed to get away with yet another marketing campaign that entices America's kids into a deadly addiction."

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.

"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.

Magazines are free to accept advertising from tobacco companies. But a 1998 settlement between the four largest tobacco companies and 46 U.S. states created broad restrictions on the marketing of cigarettes, including language that prohibited the targeting of youth.

Altria -- parent company of the largest tobacco company in the U.S., Phillip Morris USA -- does not advertise tobacco in print.

In Britain The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill is nearing its final stages in Parliament. Ministers are keen to see it passed by MPs soon after they return from the summer recess.

The Government also plans to phase out tobacco sponsorship at sporting events. Public health minister Hazel Blears spoke of her determination to drive forward a "comprehensive ban".

She said: "Tobacco advertising promotes a deadly habit. The brands most heavily advertised are those most heavily smoked by children.

"A ban on tobacco advertising and promotion is an effective measure we can take to stop young people from starting to smoke and to reduce the numbers who will ultimately die every year from smoking related diseases ."

Blears said a ban on advertising could save up to 3,000 lives a year, cutting by 2.5% the number of deaths caused by smoking.

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