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R.J. Reynolds to Limit Hip-Hop Themed Advertising

YORK, Pa. -- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., makers of Kool cigarettes, has agreed to limit a hip-hop themed marketing campaign and pay $1.46 million for anti-smoking programs following lawsuits claiming they were targeting black youths, reported the York Daily Record.

The six-year-old "Kool Mixx" promotional program recently included the nationwide distribution of interactive CD-ROMs with hip-hop music, cigarette packs with hip-hop designs and a "House of Menthol" Web site, according to state officials.

The settlement with R.J. Reynolds prohibits the inclusion of hip-hop songs on the CD-ROM along with other restrictions. The company also agreed to pay $1.46 million toward youth smoking prevention.

The settlement also bans the use of "Kool," "Mixx" or "House of Menthol" on any merchandise, prohibits the sale of "special edition" packs in retail stores and prohibits the "House of Menthol" Web site.

In other cigarette news, the parent company of the country's smallest major cigarette-maker says it is cutting 465 jobs.

Vector Group Limited will cut staff in its cigarette sales, marketing and distribution arm to save about $30 million.

Miami-based Vector is a holding company for Liggett Group Incorporated and Vector Tobacco Incorporated.

Vector was the first tobacco company to acknowledge the deadly effects of smoking, which led its larger competitors to eventually settle a mega-lawsuit with the states. The company rolled out its low- and no-nicotine Quest cigarette brand last year. Vector also produces the Omni brand with reduced carcinogens.

The company reported a loss of $12 million for the first half of the year, on top of a $16 million loss last year.
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