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Anti-Tobacco Activists Say Austin-Branded Smokes Are Aimed at Kids

Austin Camel Cigarettes
Image courtesy Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says this is the imagery Camel is using on its city branded cigarettes.

The maker of Camel Cigarettes, RJ Reynolds, will start selling limited edition cigarette packs later this year that feature the symbols of America's hippest locales, Williamsburg, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and of course, Austin, Texas.

That’s according to Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which has posted imagery of the marketing campaign on its website.

The Campaign is urging city and state officials to reject publicly the Camel marketing campaign, which they insist is aimed at children.

"The theme for Austin, Texas is exactly what you'd want to appeal to a young person," Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids president Matt Myers said in a phone interview. "It is once again trying to create an image for Camel cigarettes that appeals particularly to rebellious youth."

RJ Reynolds did not respond to any of our interview requests today. Their two marketing spokespeople had voicemail greetings saying they were out of the office this week. But in previous media reports, RJ Reynolds spokespeople were quoted as saying the marketing campaign was targeted only at adults.

Officials in San Francisco and New York City have already ripped into RJ Reynolds over the campaign.  The New York Daily News reported their city's health commissioner wrote a letter to RJ Reynolds saying he was "particularly disturbed that this effort to recruit young smokers exploits the name and image of Brooklyn's vibrant Williamsburg neighborhood."

The San Francisco Examiner said their city attorney blasted the tobacco giant for “exploiting the name and image of the Haight, a historically significant San Francisco neighborhood that is associated with youth counterculture and rebellion, to market cigarettes to young people.”

What do you think? Does the imagery above appear as if it's targeting children? Let us know in the comments field below.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.