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RJR Faces State Probes on Eclipse Marketing

March 06, 2004|From Bloomberg News

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc., the second-largest U.S. cigarette maker, is being investigated by several states for the company's assertion that its Eclipse brand may pose less of a health risk than regular cigarettes.

The company received requests for information from the attorneys general of Vermont, Maine and Connecticut, R.J. Reynolds said. Those states are working with California, New York and the District of Columbia, the company said.

The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based cigarette maker said in a regulatory filing that it received a civil subpoena in December from Vermont's attorney general regarding "false or misleading" marketing of Eclipse. The cigarette may present less risk of cancer, R.J. Reynolds said.

R.J. Reynolds, which said it was cooperating with state officials, said its advertising claims about Eclipse were substantiated by extensive scientific testing.

Eclipse, which primarily heats tobacco rather than burning it, produces 80% less secondhand smoke.

Shares of R.J. Reynolds fell 50 cents to $61.08 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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