SEATTLE -- Washington Governor Chris Gregoire is going after the makers of Camel cigarettes over a new advertising campaign. It features landmarks like the Pike Place Market and Mount Rainier on new “hip” packs of cigarettes, which tout Seattle as the birthplace of Grunge and the coffee revolution.
“I am alarmed and disappointed at R.J. Reynolds’ new marketing campaign which exploits the name and image of Seattle to recruit young smokers,” Gregoire said in a news release. “I call on R.J. Reynolds to halt their cynical campaign and not use our local landmarks for their gain."
R.J. Reynolds, makers of Camels and other major brands of cigarettes, told reporters that nothing in the new “Break Away” ad campaign is designed to encourage underage youth to smoke.
When Gov. Gregoire was Washington’s Attorney General, she helped lead the fight against big tobacco.
“We have worked hard to help people break free from tobacco addiction and the suffering and death it causes individuals and families. Washington has 320,000 fewer adult smokers and 65,000 fewer youth smokers than before we started our Tobacco Prevention and Control Program 10 years ago,” she said.
Dr. Robert Jaffe, a Seattle family practitioner has been an anti-smoking crusader for decades. He believes that this ad campaign is a last ditch effort by tobacco companies to get their message out before new graphic warning labels will be required on cigarette packs and advertising.
“So they’ve got about 6 or 8 months to make their own advertising claims on their packages before half of them are filled with dirty lungs and people on ventilators,” Dr. Jaffe said.
Washington’s leaders aren’t the only ones fuming over the advertising campaign. San Francisco is also calling for its landmarks to come off the packaging.
Dr. Jaffe who says many the patients he sees in the hospital have had a history of smoking. But he adds, the anti-tobacco campaign he helped create a decade ago has proved to be successful successful.
“Washington state is one of the states with the lowest smoking rates," he said.