May 29, 1997 in Nation/World

Ftc Moves To Snuff Out Joe Camel

Associated Press

The Federal Trade Commission moved to ban suave Joe Camel on Wednesday, charging R.J. Reynolds with using the popular cartoon advertising campaign to target children.

RJR, the nation’s No. 2 tobacco firm, vowed to vigorously fight the charge of unfair advertising as “unprecedented, unfounded and unwarranted.”

The cigarette industry already has offered to kill Joe Camel as part of a settlement to a legal assault on the tobacco industry by state attorneys general, anti-smoking activists and plaintiffs in private product liability suits.

Members of Congress, which must approve any settlement, and tobacco foes said the FTC’s action now removes the industry’s offer as one of its bargaining chips.

“Today’s FTC decision should take this issue off the table for the ongoing negotiations,” declared Rep. Tim Roemer, D-Ind., who organized a bipartisan petition of 67 House members that pushed the FTC to investigate Joe Camel. “We have successfully snuffed out Joe Camel.”

But Mississippi Attorney General Michael Moore said even broader advertising curbs are still an ingredient of the peace deal he is negotiating on behalf of 31 states that have sued the industry.

“We need to stop the Joe Camels that we can’t even imagine before they hurt our kids, not after,” Moore said. “It’s a crime that FTC has taken so long to act.”

Moore, however, failed to convince health organizations Wednesday that his proposed deal would improve public health. The groups’ backing is considered important for any settlement to pass Congress.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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