Flavored cigarettes banned
R.J. Reynolds had been criticized for marketing a flavor as Kauai Kolada
Kauai Kolada cigarettes have gone the way of Joe Camel with yesterday's domestic ban on flavored cigarettes from tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
Reynolds agreed to a ban of its current flavored cigarettes of its brands Camel, Kool and Salem, along with restrictions in its marketing tactics for future flavored products.
R.J. Reynolds, once forced to kill cartoon character Joe Camel as a marketing strategy, was soundly criticized in Hawaii for its use of an island's name and the image of a hula girl to market the Kauai Kolada flavor.
"Flavored cigarettes are nothing more than an attempt to prey on our youth and entice them with false images and artificial flavors and aromas that cover the serious health risks of tobacco," said Gov. Linda Lingle, who in 2004 called the marketing tactic "offensive" and "disgusting."
Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste also joined the chorus of criticism in 2004. Although Kauai Kolada flavored cigarettes disappeared from the shelves soon after the outcry, Baptiste said the usage of his island's name "gravely concerned" him.
"Kauai is known for its pristine and healthy environment," Baptiste said. "For Reynolds to use Kauai's name to sell a product that was detrimental to public health was appalling."
The agreement also restricts the company from producing cigarettes with a candy, fruity or alcoholic name, like "tangy," "tart" or "cream." It also cannot use the packaging, print, mail or online advertisements, and Web sites to market the product that evoke imagery of fruit, candy or alcoholic beverages.
The Web site for the company was "under review" by the company yesterday and was not in service.
Dana Viola, special assistant to state Attorney General Mark Bennett, said the ban does not include cigarettes that have already been distributed for sale.
"Whatever is on the shelves currently, the agreement won't apply to those cigarettes," Viola said.
The attorneys general of Hawaii, 37 other states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands determined Reynolds was violating the 1998 tobacco master settlement agreement's prohibition on targeting youths.
According to the American Lung Association, a 2005 study from New York's Roswell Park Cancer Institute showed that 20 percent of smokers ages 17 to 19 smoked flavored cigarettes in the 30 days prior to the survey.
Sterling Yee, president of the association's Hawaii chapter, said more needs to be done despite the settlement. "(The settlement) applies only to one company and only to U.S. domestic sales," Yee said. "It does not cover smokeless tobacco or cigars. All tobacco use is harmful and must be discouraged."
Yesterday's settlement is only one more method of discouragement for smokers, said Nicholas Head, manager of A-1 Tobaccos of Hawaii. Flavored cigarettes at the store are popular with 20-somethings, he said.
Although Head said flavored cigarettes are only a niche market, he is still worried about his job stability in the near future. With higher taxes, and bans on smoking areas and flavors, attitudes have shifted against smokers dramatically, limiting their options, he said.
"It's just a trend in stopping us from doing something that's our choice," Head said.