[JURIST] Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett [official website] said Tuesday that Pennsylvania and several other states will file lawsuits against tobacco company RJ Reynolds [corporate website] for violating an agreement not to use cartoon characters to advertise tobacco products. A press release [text] from Corbett's office said the suits are in response to a multi-page ad for Camel cigarettes in the November issue of Rolling Stone magazine, containing various cartoon images [copies]. Corbett described the ad as "a flagrant violation of the 1998 national tobacco settlement." California, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Ohio, and Washington will file similar lawsuits, which could result in more than $100 million in sanctions against RJ Reynolds. Rolling Stone publisher Ray Chelstowski told AP that RJ Reynolds was unaware the ads would be illustrated and said they promote a music-oriented website and not cigarettes.
Shortly after the ad was published last month, anti-smoking groups urged state attorneys general to investigate the matter. In 1998, 46 states signed the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) [NAAG backgrounder; PDF text] with RJ Reynolds and three other tobacco companies to settle state suits involving billions of dollars in costs for treating smoking-related illnesses. That agreement banned the use of cartoons in tobacco advertising to prevent targeting youth, largely in response to RJ Reynolds' use of the Joe Camel [Encarta article] character in cigarette ads. AP has more.