Front Page







World Summary

On Air


Talking Point


Low Graphics


Site Map

Friday, January 16, 1998 Published at 05:13 GMT


Camel shown to target child smokers
image: [ RJ Reynolds aimed this marketing campaign at young people but denied doing so under oath ]
RJ Reynolds aimed this marketing campaign at young people but denied doing so under oath

A mass of secret documents revealed in America have shown the makers of Camel intentionally targeted the cigarettes at children.

America's second-largest tobacco company RJ Reynolds developed Joe Camel to fight back against teenagers' preference for other brands.

[ image: Henry Waxman:
Henry Waxman: "A sophisticated strategy to market to children"
Bundles containing more than 1,000 pages of internal memos and briefings detailing the strategy were released by the California Democratic Representative, Henry Waxman.

He said: "These documents literally bring us into the boardrooms of RJR. They show that RJR's most senior executives developed and implemented a sophisticated plan to market their cigarettes to our children.

"The documents also fundamentally conflict with the sworn testimony we received from the Chief Executive Office of RJR just a few years ago before the Congress of the United States."

Camel's makers have always denied their Joe Camel cartoon advertisement, which began in 1988, was aimed at teenagers.

[ image: Camel is second favourite to Marlboro among US teenagers]
Camel is second favourite to Marlboro among US teenagers
But their newly-revealed documents show attracting young smokers was always the plan.

The disclosure may stop any plans to give tobacco firms immunity from future legal action brought by smokers.

American companies had hoped to persuade law-makers to agree to immunity in 40 states in return for $368bn compensation over 25 years.

RJ Reynolds said the documents had been taken out of context. The adverts were not intended to start children smoking, it said.

The company also expressed support for the proposed national tobacco deal.

But with Congress yet to approve the unpopular deal, the revelation makes it less likely than ever it will be passed when the politicians return to Washington DC at the end of the month.

Millions of further secret documents are ready to be unveiled in a Minnesota law case, where jury selection begins on Tuesday.

It is the first smoking case to come to trial in the US and is unlikely to be the last.

The US President, Bill Clinton, seized on the new evidence to urge Congress to pass firm laws to ban cigarette adverts aimed at children.

He said: "Reducing teen smoking has always been America's bottom line and that's this administration's bottom line. Now it should become the industry's bottom line."

[ image: Bill Clinton wants to protect the young]
Bill Clinton wants to protect the young
Mr Clinton's response was echoed by other prominent Democrat senators.

Edward Kennedy said: "The industry still hopes to get away with only a slap on the wrist from Congress, but disclosures like these make a timid response indefensible."

The Nebraskan Senator, Bob Kerrey, promised: "The law is going to get changed.

"They [tobacco companies] may not like the law, but it will be very difficult not to enact a law that will require them to pay in for the reduction in children's smoking and to pay damages to states and pay damages to the federal government," he said.


Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage


[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]
  Relevant Stories

09 Jan 98 | Sci/Tech
Key to nicotine addiction

01 Jan 98 | World
No-smoking in California

15 Dec 97 | UK
Smoking 'poses main health risks for EU'

28 Nov 97 | World
Hollywood attacks tobacco

  Internet Links

R J Reynolds

US Food and Drug Administration

Action on Smoking and Health

National Center for Tobacco Free Kids

Nicotine Anonymous

US Smokers' Alliance

Court TV: tobacco cases

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.