RJR Won't Change Ad Policy
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. plans to maintain its advertising policy and not follow Philip Morris USA in reducing cigarette ads in magazines with large youth readerships.
Philip Morris said Monday it would suspend advertising in more than 40 magazines that have 15 percent or more readers under 18.
Reducing such advertising won't affect smoking by young people, said Jan Smith, an RJR spokeswoman. Instead, it will hurt the company's ability to communicate with the public and compete for adult smokers, she said.
``Study after study has shown that peer and family influences lead kids to smoke, not the appearance of cigarette advertising in magazines,'' Smith said.
RJR's policy of directing ads to magazines in which at least two-thirds of the readers are 18 or older conflicts with tobacco advertising guidelines proposed in 1996 by the Food and Drug Administration.
In its new policy, Philip Morris adopted the FDA proposals, winning lukewarm praise from anti-tobacco groups.
Philip Morris also agreed to pull advertising from magazines that have more than 2 million readers under 18, and it won't place ads on the back covers of magazines.
Tobacco foes criticized RJR's decision not to change its ad policy, citing the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with states. The agreement forbids companies from directly or indirectly marketing to youngsters.
``Ads with scantily clad women in silk stockings in Sports Illustrated, which has 22 percent youth readership, is certainly a violation of the MSA,'' said William Corr, executive vice president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. ``That's over 7 million kids.''
Since the master settlement, RJR has increased its advertising in magazines with youth readership to about 31 percent, the most of any cigarette-maker, according to a study by the Massachusetts Department of Health.
RJR's advertising policy is within settlement guidelines, Smith said. In addition to targeting magazines with two-thirds adult readership, RJR examines the magazines' editorial content to ensure that they target mature audiences and reviews the other ads to ensure that they are for products bought by adults.