Dozens of members of Congress are urging women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan, Vogue and Glamour to stop accepting tobacco ads, saying such ads threaten the health of the teenagers and young women who form a large part of their readership.
In a letter sent Tuesday to 11 publications, the 41 lawmakers, led by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., said it was ironic that tobacco ads appear in the same pages as articles on women’s health.
The Congress members said they were particularly concerned by ads for Camel No. 9, the smartly packaged new cigarette by R.J. Reynolds which has been heavily marketed to women.
“To our great concern, R.J. Reynolds is heavily relying on leading women’s magazines, including yours, to aggressively market this deadly product to young women, including teenagers,” they wrote. The letter was released to the media on Wednesday.
R.J. Reynolds says its product, which comes in a sleek black box with a border of teal or fuschia and is advertised on heavy, shiny paper adorned with images of roses, is aimed solely at established adult smokers. Anti-smoking groups allege the product is designed to lure young women to take up smoking.
“With over a thousand of their customers dying every day from tobacco-related disease, cigarette companies certainly knew their demographic when they referred to teens as ’replacement smokers’ in their internal documents,” the congressional letter said.
Capps, a member of the Health Subcommitte, added in a statement that “as a nurse, a mother and a grandmother, I am very concerned about popular women’s magazines accepting the advertising dollars of cigarette manufacturers and turning a blind eye towards the deadly effect these cigarettes have on women.”
There was no immediate response to the letter from any of the magazines.
Conde Nast, which publishes four of the 11 magazines mentioned in the letter — Vogue, Glamour, Lucky and W — says it’s up to the individual titles whether or not to accept tobacco ads.
Other magazines mentioned in the letter were Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire, US Weekly, InStyle, Interview Magazine, and Soap Opera Digest. Print ads for tobacco are banned in a number of countries, including throughout Europe, but legal in the United States. Tobacco advertising was banned from radio and TV long ago, and more recently from billboards.
A major tobacco report issued earlier this month by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, recommended that print ads be restricted to black and white text only — no images.
This isn’t the first time that Camel No. 9 has aroused congressional concern. Recently five U.S. senators wrote the Federal Trade Commission, complaining that the ad campaign targeted young women.
A number of magazines refuse to accept tobacco ads; just a few are Self, Men’s Health and Money, according to the Tobacco-Free Periodicals Project.