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Reynolds to halt Camel ad campaign

December 06, 2007|Marc Lifsher | Times Staff Writer

Cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. said Wednesday that it agreed to temporarily halt a controversial advertising campaign featuring cartoons in hopes of negotiating a settlement to lawsuits filed by California and seven other states.

In a hearing on a lawsuit brought by California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, Reynolds voluntarily offered to suspend distribution of compact disc recordings at events sponsored by its Camel Farm campaign, which promotes independent bands.

The company also said it would stop using Camel Farm logos at age-restricted events in bars and clubs and would take down its Camel Farm website.

"It's an interim accommodation until the matter is resolved," said Reynolds spokesman David Howard.

A San Diego County Superior Court judge has set a status conference for Jan. 7 on the lawsuit filed Tuesday. In the meantime, Reynolds and the state plan to hold discussions aimed at settling the California complaint.

Brown contends that Reynolds, in an advertising and editorial spread in the Nov. 15 edition of Rolling Stone magazine, violated a 1998 legal agreement banning the use of its Joe Camel and other cartoon characters in cigarette advertisements.

"The case is not settled. They have simply agreed during the pendency of the case not to engage in further activities," said Dennis Eckhart, a senior assistant attorney general in charge of tobacco litigation and enforcement.

Lawyers for Reynolds and Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan in Chicago on Wednesday announced a similar agreement to suspend parts of the Camel Farm advertising campaign. Reynolds spokesman Howard said he expected to reach similar agreements with other states.

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marc.lifsher@latimes.com

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