Tobacco firm ends college ad campaign

December 15, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

A cigarette promotion that urged college-age consumers to concoct exotic drinks and "Go `Til Daybreak" ended yesterday after R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. bowed to complaints that it could encourage irresponsible drinking.

Since January, the nation's second-largest tobacco company has been mailing a Camel cigarettes promotion to people as young as 21 containing six drink coasters. The coasters contain cocktail recipes and boozy exhortations such as "Kiss your worries goodbye."

The campaign drew complaints Tuesday from state attorneys general - including Joseph J. Curran Jr. of Maryland - and from liquor distillers who said it encouraged irresponsible drinking and could target minors.

Reynolds officials said the company sent the gift package only to those who had identified themselves as smokers. But yesterday the company said it would drop the campaign, scheduled to continue through April.

In a two-line letter faxed yesterday morning to Curran, Reynolds senior counsel James H. Beckett wrote that "upon careful reconsideration, the beverage coaster program has been discontinued" and "no further mailings will be processed."

Reynolds spokeswoman Maura Payne said the company disagrees with the attorneys general. "However, we just decided upon reflection that this was a relatively small piece of the Camel campaign, and it wasn't worth continuing to disagree with them."

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