R.J. Reynolds Drops Out of Print for '08

Congresswoman: 'A Day Late and a Dollar Short'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After a series of public attacks from some members of Congress, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco has decided not to advertise its brands in newspapers or consumer magazines during 2008.

Several times this year, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., and a group of colleagues in the House of Representatives have said in open letters to women's magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Us Weekly that accepting Reynolds ads for Camel No. 9 is tantamount to selling out the welfare of their readers.

"These ads encourage a fatally addictive habit and are especially targeted at young women," said one such letter in August. "It's just flat-out hypocritical to run stories about becoming more beautiful and healthy while promoting a dangerous product responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of people a year."

Magazines' response
Most of the magazines challenged by Ms. Capps did not respond, but those that did argued that their editorial coverage criticizing smoking -- and their readers' ability to make their own decisions -- meant there was no issue in running ads for cigarettes.

Glamour Editor in Chief Cynthia Leive, for example, wrote Ms. Capps that articles in her magazine consistently warn women about the dangers of smoking. She cited examples such as an August 2007 feature, "The No. 1 Cancer Killing Young Women and How to Beat It." But smoking remains a personal choice, and the Camel ads in question are legal, Ms. Leive said.

Ms. Capps, who was unsatisfied with the magazines' responses, said Tuesday that she wasn't happy with R.J. Reynolds' move either. "R.J. Reynolds' token concession regarding its irresponsible advertisements of tobacco products comes a day late and a dollar short," she said in a statement. "It still plans to keep peddling its poisonous product to young people with more gimmicks and giveaways designed to make something that's deadly and addictive seem sexy and glamorous."

Age-appropriate marketing
The decision by Reynolds was first reported Tuesday in the Winston-Salem Journal. R.J. Reynolds confirmed that it "will not purchase any consumer print advertising space for the cigarette brands we market in 2008."

Spokeswoman Jan Smith called it a "business decision" and said the said the 2008 marketing strategy will focus on three areas: age-restricted, adult-only facilities like bars and clubs; direct communication with age-verified smokers; and retail stores where cigarettes are sold.

She added that R.J. Reynolds may still advertise in trade magazines, although trade advertising has generally comprised only a tiny fraction of the company's advertising budget.

R.J. Reynolds has been scaling back on ads for several years. According to TNS Media Intelligence, the company spent $183 million in 2004, and just $52 million in 2006. The tobacco giant spent less than $26 million in the first half of 2007. The company spent $13.3 million on newspaper and magazine advertising in 2006 and $8.7 million for the first eight months of this year.
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