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Judge Orders Recall of Smokes

Brown & Williamson also is told to curb ads for cigarettes packaged with a hip-hop theme said to target children.

June 18, 2004|From Times Wire Services

Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. was ordered by a New York judge Thursday to curb an ad campaign for Kool Mixx cigarettes and recall 79,000 cartons after New York Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer complained that the company was targeting children as customers.

State Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos signed a temporary restraining order restricting the Kool Mixx campaign focused on hip-hop culture and music and ordering the recall of "special edition thematic packs of cigarettes" connected with the ads, Spitzer said.

The judge also ordered the company not to show live on the Internet a hip-hop deejay competition it is sponsoring July 24.

"It is a success in thwarting the bulk of Brown & Williamson's promotion that was clearly aimed at a youth-oriented segment of the population," said Edward L. Sweda Jr., a senior attorney with the Tobacco Products Liability Project at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston.

Brown & Williamson spokesman Mark Smith said: "The notion that we were marketing to kids by holding an event in an adult-only venue is rather absurd. However, we understand the concerns expressed by the judge and, in some cases, by the attorney general, and we are obviously going to follow the judge's ruling."

Spitzer said the ad campaign violated the landmark $206-billion settlement between the tobacco industry and 46 states that addressed numerous lawsuits over the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses.

Companies that signed the agreement, including Brown & Williamson, agreed to limit advertising, especially ads aimed at young people.

Spitzer also wants Brown & Williamson -- whose parent company is British American Tobacco -- to place anti-smoking ads in such magazines as Rolling Stone, Spin and Vibe, which have large numbers of younger readers.

"Today's decision makes clear that the court will take appropriate steps to prevent tobacco companies targeting youth in their marketing campaigns," Spitzer said.

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Bloomberg News and Reuters were used in compiling this report.

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