Newsbrief: Prohibition as a Marketing Tool -- Camel Ad Campaign Touts "Forbidden Fruit" Appeal 7/9/04

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RJ Reynolds, the tobacco conglomerate that manufactures Camel cigarettes, is embarking on an ad campaign that seeks to infuse its smokes with the glamour of the forbidden. In a campaign that will culminate in November with Camel Mansion Speakeasy parties on both coasts, RJ Reynolds is harkening back to the days of alcohol Prohibition. The campaign will seek to convince smokers feeling downtrodden by the anti-smoking legislation of today that they should instead revel in their status as "outlaws," just as millions of Americans did in defying Prohibition in the 1920s.

Yes, smoke Camels and you, too, can be as cool as Roaring '20s flapper by rebelling against repressive orthodoxy. And if you're not sure that you're really as hip as those scofflaws of yore, Camel is helpfully offering a special tie-in flavor called Back Alley Blend to give you that added fillip of semi-criminality.

The campaign got underway with a full-page ad in the June/July issue of Details magazine. "Not since the '20s has it been so easy to live so large," said the ad text above a photo of a flapper smoking a Camel through a cigarette holder. The metal lid on Camel's Back Alley Blend drives home the deviant point. Ad copy on the inside of the lid describes Back Alley Blend's flavor as "enjoyed by bootleggers and socialites."

Not so long ago, the tobacco companies used Prohibition as the boogeyman. Anti-smoking forces are "seeking a return to Prohibition in America," then RJ Reynolds chairman James Johnston warned a congressional committee in 1994. "The American public overwhelmingly opposes prohibition, regardless of whether it comes through the front door or sneaks in through the back door," Johnston said. "So let's be clear that back-door prohibition is prohibition nonetheless."

Big tobacco has gone from attacking Prohibition as anti-American to using it as a marketing ploy. RJ Reynolds, you've come a long way, baby.

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Issue #345, 7/9/04 Editorial: Time for Congress to Get Real | In the Wake of Blakely: Federal Sentencing Chaos as Defense Attorneys, Prosecutors, Lawmakers Ponder How to Respond | House Votes Down Medical Marijuana Bill -- Election Year Politics, Organized Opposition Cited | International AIDS Conference Puts Focus on Thai War on Drugs | Making it Official: More Initiatives Move Toward November Ballot | ALERT: "Thank or Spank" Your Congressman for This Week's Medical Marijuana Vote | Newsbrief: Rep. Ron Paul Brings Pain Doctor Prosecution Issue to House | Newsbrief: US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Rejects DEA Motion for New Hemp Hearing | Newsbrief: Kansas Supreme Court Says Cut Methamphetamine Sentences | Newsbrief: Tommy Chong Walks Out of Prison | Newsbrief: Iranians Protest US, UK Blind Eye to Afghan Opium Crop | Newsbrief: United Arab Emirates Ponders First Step Toward Harm Reduction | Newsbrief: Head of National Drug Intelligence Center Fired | Newsbrief: Prohibition as a Marketing Tool -- Camel Ad Campaign Touts "Forbidden Fruit" Appeal | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: California Prisons "Dysfunctional," State Report Concludes | Movie Opening: Maria Full of Grace | Media Scan: New CSDP Ad -- Richard Paey and Rush Limbaugh | This Week in History | Psilocybin Cancer Research Study Still Seeking Participants | The Reformer's Calendar

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