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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- At least eight state attorneys general planned to file a lawsuit yesterday concerning the advertising for R.J. Reynolds' Camel cigarettes in the November edition of Rolling Stone, officials told The Associated Press.
The officials claim the illustrated advertising section violates the tobacco industry's 9-year-old promise not to use cartoons to sell cigarettes, the AP reported.
The advertising appeared in sections where Camel cigarette ads were placed with pages of magazine-produced content about independent rock music, the AP reported.
"Their latest nine-page advertising spread in Rolling Stone, filled with cartoons, flies in the face of their pledge to halt all tobacco marketing to children," Pennsylvania's Attorney General, Tom Corbett, said in a statement cited by the AP.
Other states' attorneys general filing suits include Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, New York, Ohio and Washington, according to Corbett's office. Attorneys general offices in Maryland and Connecticut also told the AP they were involved.
California Attorney General Jerry Brown called the publication a "rather clever piece of advertising." He added: "They agreed not to do these kinds of things ever since Joe Camel. We have to call them to task."
David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds in Winston-Salem, N.C., insisted the Camel ads contained no cartoons. While the company was surprised and concerned by Rolling Stone's illustrations, R.J. Reynolds bore no responsibility for it, he said.
"Had we been aware of the graphics prepared by Rolling Stone, we would not have advertised adjacent to the gatefold," David Howard, spokesman for R.J. Reynolds, told the AP.
A 1998 settlement between 46 states and the tobacco industry included a provision against using cartoons in advertisements, the AP reported.
Corbett's office told the AP the states are seeking fines of $100 per magazine distributed within their borders, as well as $100 per visit on the related R.J. Reynolds Web site -- http://www.thefarmrocks.com.
The publisher of Rolling Stone, Ray Chelstowski, told the AP that R.J. Reynolds had no knowledge that the magazine's pages would be illustrated, as opposed to an article on independent music, and added the Camel ads tout the music Web site, not cigarettes.
"Particularly the fact that what Camel is promoting here is a Web site makes at least some of the accusations seem far-fetched," Chelstowski told the AP.
Other states are reviewing the issue and could join the eight states, Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for Corbett, told the AP. If all 46 states involved in the 1998 settlement files suit, fines could exceed $100 million, he told the AP.
The lawsuits also seek to remove the images from all Web sites and promotions, along with a payment for anti-smoking ads by R.J. Reynolds equal to the cost of the Rolling Stone advertisement, according to the AP.