RJR Judgment Upheld

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RJR Judgment Upheld

SAN FRANCISCO -- A California appeals court on Thursday upheld a $14.8 million fine that state regulators levied against R.J. Reynolds for giving out free cigarettes at events where children were present. A California state law forbids the distribution of free tobacco products where children are nearby.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer sued R.J. Reynolds, the maker of Camel and other brands, after it doled out free cigarettes to 14,834 people at six public events, ranging from a San Jose beer festival to a motorcycle event in Del Mar, Calif., the Associated Press reported.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal, ruling 2-1, upheld the judgment that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge awarded. R.J. Reynolds appealed, arguing that federal law pre-empts state authorities from regulating the advertising and promotion of cigarettes.

Joseph Escher, a company attorney for R.J. Reynolds, said it was likely to ask the California Supreme Court to review the 45-page decision.

Tom Dresslar, a Lockyer spokesman, said the dispensing of free cigarettes was an example of the company "doing their best to hook kids on cigarettes." The tobacco company said it did not provide the free cigarettes to minors, the report said.