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R.J. Reynolds to pull cigarette ads

Camel brand cigarettes on a shelf in a New York City store.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: R.J. Reynolds joined in the stock market fun today -- shares were up 1.4 percent. But the cigarette company's been taking some heat for its ads lately, specifically the ones targeting young women smokers.

Reynolds has announced it's going to stop advertising in newspapers and magazines next year. Marketplace's Janet Babin reports from North Carolina Public Radio:


Janet Babin: Cigarette ads aim to be cutting-edge. The latest R.J. ads to raise eyebrows are for Camel No. 9 -- cigarettes targeted to young women and advertised in fashion magazines. Professor Stanton Glantz at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education says the ads use stylized feminine images to attract new smokers.

Stanton Glantz: It takes brilliant marketing to get people to poison themselves.

Glantz says he's pleased that the ads won't be in print. But he thinks R.J. is just shifting its marketing to the Internet and direct mail, where it can more effectively reach young eyeballs.

Glantz: This isn't a concession by Reynolds at all.

Some lawmakers had been calling for a ban on print images, but the company falls short of saying it made the decision to appease them. Here's R.J. Reynolds spokeswoman Jan Smith:

Jan Smith: Tobacco social issues are a factor in every business decision we make. But this decision is really driven by what we think is the best approach for our marketing programs in 2008.

Tobacco print ads were on the wane, anyway. According to TNS Media Intelligence, R.J. Reynolds spent $52 million in advertising in 2006, but just over $13 million was spent on newspaper and magazine ads.

Nat Ives with Advertising Age says R.J. Reynolds won't suffer from the decision.

Nat Ives: For one thing, they're going to shift their marketing to other circles and strategies.

Maybe the new approach is working -- smoking had been on the decline in the U.S., but for the past few years, it's been steady. I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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