Connecticut Investigating Tobacco Companies

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said yesterday he is investigating additional lawsuits against tobacco companies for targeting their products to the young through magazines, according to the Hartford Courant.

Blumenthal pointed to a study in the Aug. 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine that found that tobacco companies continued to buy ad space in youth magazines to promote their tobacco. Money spent on tobacco ads in youth magazines reached $59.6 million in 2000, higher than in the four years prior to the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, according to the study.

"This study shows plainly that Big Tobacco continues to target children tirelessly, tenaciously, unconscionably," Blumenthal said. "Tobacco companies are poisoning our children - poisoning their minds, by luring them into lifelong addiction."

A lawsuit filed in March by Connecticut and five other states against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., a Winston-Salem, N.C.- based cigarette manufacturer, for violations of the Master Settlement Agreement is moving forward, the report said. The lawsuit cites the persistent placement of tobacco ads in magazines prosecutors say have large youth audiences.

A study conducted by the offices aligned in the lawsuit also shows that R.J. Reynolds has continued to place ads in magazines with strong youth appeal, including People, Rolling Stone, TV Guide, Sports Illustrated, Car and Driver and Premiere, Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said additional lawsuits could be brought against Louisville, Ky.-based Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co. and Greensboro, N.C.-based Lorillard Tobacco Co. for targeting youth with similar print advertising.

Though some of the magazines they advertise in do reach youth readers, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. subscribes to a less stringent standard than Blumenthal does, said Lisa Eddington, a spokeswoman for the company.

Reynolds doesn't advertise in magazines whose youth readership figures exceed more than 25 percent, Eddington said. Both Rolling Stone and Newsweek magazine pass that Reynolds litmus test for being adult-oriented, she said. "We do not specifically target minors," she emphasized.
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