Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tobacco company to end drinking promotion

December 15, 2005

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— A cigarette promotion that used coasters encouraging heavy drinking has been discontinued after three states appealed to the tobacco company to stop it.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. said in a letter Wednesday that it would stop a promotion for Camel cigarettes in which over-21 customers were sent coasters on their birthdays. The coasters included drink recipes and phrases such as "Layer It On, Go 'Til Daybreak."

One concoction, the "Crazy Bootlegger," called for a shot each of Jack Daniel's, Southern Comfort and Sambuca. "Mix three shots together over ice, then make sure you're sitting," the coaster urged.

The attorneys general of California, Maryland and New York filed a complaint with the company last month, calling the coaster promotion irresponsible. They cited research showing that people are more likely to smoke when drinking, and that smokers who regularly drink are almost twice as likely to suffer genetic mutations associated with lung cancer than those who do not.

In a two-sentence letter to Maryland Atty. Gen. J. Joseph Curran on Wednesday, a lawyer for RJR said the coaster mailings would stop.

"Upon careful consideration, the beverage coaster program has been terminated," RJR lawyer James H. Beckett wrote.

R.J. Reynolds, a subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., is the nation's second-largest tobacco company, based in Winston-Salem, N.C.

"We're pleased they're doing the right thing" by stopping the promotion, Curran said. "Excessive drinking as recommended by these coasters - particularly with these slogans - it just sends the wrongest possible message when those of us in law enforcement are doing everything we can to discourage excessive drinking."

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