R.J. Reynolds Halts Flavored Cigarette Sales

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R.J. Reynolds Halts Flavored Cigarette Sales

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. reached an agreement with several states' attorney generals to stop the sale of specialty candy-, fruit- and alcohol-flavored cigarettes in those states, according to a report by the Central Valley Business Times.

"This agreement codifies R.J. Reynolds' practice for some time of not using language describing fruit or candy flavors in magazine and newspaper advertising, or point-of-sale communications in non-age-restricted venues," Lynn J. Beasley, R.J. Reynolds' president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.

Under the agreement, R.J. Reynolds, a business unit of Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Reynolds American Inc., committed to a ban of its flavored Camel, Kool and Salem cigarettes in the United States in non-adult-only venues and communications. Its specialty blends can not use the name or image of a fruit, candy, or alcoholic beverage in the future naming of its brand styes. The company also agreed to limit the use of candy, fruit and alcoholic beverage names and images in many non-restricted marketing campaigns.

"We believe that this agreement and our new policy is responsible, appropriate and resolves the issues that have been of concern," Beasley added. The company will voluntarily expand similar guidelines to all of its brands.

In addition, the restrictions apply to any cigarettes made by R.J Reynolds in the future that have a flavor other than tobacco or menthol, the Times reported.

The attorney generals of the states involved cited the company's use of candy, fruit and alcohol flavors with high appeal to children, the use of its advertising and packaging with youth-oriented visuals, colors and themes and its use of scented promotional cards in its argument against the sale of the flavored cigarettes.

"In marketing these products to our youth, R.J. Reynolds violated the agreement it made with the states back in 1998 to stop targeting kids," said California Attorney General Bill Lockyer when announcing the agreement earlier this week. "Hopefully, this settlement will keep R.J. Reynolds from breaking its word again and ensure the company acts responsibly to help protect children from starting a deadly habit."

Many of the company's specialty flavored cigarettes were part of its Camel Exotic Blend brands, introduced in 1999 as a super-premium priced product. According to the company, these styles represented less than one tenth of one percent of the company's cigarette volume annually. R.J. Reynolds stopped the manufacture of the last three remaining Exotic Blends in May.

"We recognize that the past use of certain names on a limited number of our brand styles resulted in unintended perceptions and concerns. Today's agreement is the appropriate step in resolving these perceptions and this issue," Beasley concluded.