The American Heart Association, American Lung Association and multiple other health organizations have accused Reynolds American, Inc. of violating the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, after Camel Crush ads appeared in 24 magazines with young adult and child readers.
Critics of the Camel Crush say it appeals to kids because the menthol taste masks the flavor of tobacco.
Reynolds American spokesperson Richard Smith said the company was following guidelines, advertising in magazines with adult readership of 85 percent or higher. He says the company analyzes editorial content of each publication it advertises in to ensure that children won’t have access to the material.
The company has been criticized in the past for its cartoon Joe Camel mascot, which made the company wildly successful, and which a number of lawsuits claimed was attractive to children. In 2007, it suspended advertising of its Camel cigarettes under intense criticism.
Because tobacco advertisements on billboards, television and radio are illegal in the United States, tobacco manufacturers resort to print media.
Critics of the MSA itself say the agreement was too lenient. In addition, certain restrictions on pricing in the MSA favor large tobacco companies over smaller ones, in turn empowering the tobacco industry.
“It appears that the tobacco industry has emerged from the state lawsuits even more powerful,” said William Godshall, an anti-smoking advocate.
The multi-million dollar industry may face greater criticism as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigates the effects of menthol-flavored cigarettes on consumer health.