FTC staff wants to end Old Joe prosecution

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The Federal Trade Commission staff Nov. 23 said it wants to abandon its prosecution of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. over Joe Camel advertising, citing the state attorneys general settlement that bars using cartoon characters in advertising. The FTC had faced a difficult task in proving Joe was causing kids to smoke despite the public outcry over the campaign. The agency had earlier said it had no statistical evidence directly proving Joe caused teens to smoke. Instead the FTC claimed that Camel's share growth and studies by other government agencies suggesting advertising might be a factor in teen-age smoking was sufficient proof. Reynolds, which pulled Joe a year ago voluntarily, had argued that without direct proof, the FTC had no case and its attorney said Nov. 23 the company will ask for a directed verdict that the FTC had no case. The FTC said it wants to drop the case because the states' agreement was enforceable and provides the same sanctions it had been seeking.

Copyright November 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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