by Elizabeth Hemmerdinger | bio

Earlier this year, I wrote about the rolling out of Camel No. 9, the new Camel cigarette dressed up in pink and marketed to women.

R.J. Reynold’s current marketing strategy includes offering giveaways of lip balm and hot pink cellphone jewelry, among other items, and combining cigarette promotions with fashion tips — all intended to hook young women and turn them into lifelong smoking addicts.

Understandably, public officials around the country are not pleased.

“Someone should remind R.J. Reynolds that there’s nothing sexy about emphysema or dying prematurely from cancer. No amount of pretty pink packaging can obscure the fact that lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer among American women — a truth that underscores tobacco companies’ desperate search for new smokers,” Rep. Lois Capps, a Democrat from California, wrote in the Washington Post earlier this month.

Capps is focusing efforts on women’s magazines that sell advertising space to R.J. Reynolds. Her efforts have not been met with much success.

“In June, 40 of my congressional colleagues joined me in writing to the publishers of 11 leading women’s magazines: Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, InStyle, Interview Magazine, Lucky, Marie Claire, Soap Opera Digest, Us Weekly, Vogue and W. We asked them to stop accepting misleading advertisements for deadly cigarettes, particularly for Camel No. 9,” Capps writes. “Not one of the magazines bothered to formally respond. We wrote again on Aug. 1. Seven of the 11 magazines responded, but none has committed to dropping the ads.”

Capps continues:

Several of the magazines asserted that they can report and editorialize on the dangers of smoking while simultaneously accepting advertisements for the very product they pretend to decry. One complained that we were using “coercion” to prevent it from doing business and even questioned our patriotism for questioning its blind pursuit of profits.

It would be nice to think that the four that never responded — Interview Magazine, Marie Claire, Soap Opera Digest and Us Weekly — have been shamed into silence over their acceptance of ads that promote to young women a deadly, and entirely preventable, addiction. But the truth is all of these publications seem to care more about their bottom lines than the health of their readers, young and old.

On Oct. 2, Capps, in a speech from the House floor, accused the magazines of selling out women. Click here to watch.

If you agree with Capps, as I do, that these magazines should drop these ads, contact her office to show your support. And contact your representative to encourage support of HR 1108, which would provide the FDA with the authority to regulate tobacco and tobacco advertising.

Start the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.