Camel brand cigarettes are coming under fire from several health groups for placing ads in magazines marketed for teens.
The cigarettes, called Camel Crush, feature a small capsule inside the filter which, when pushed, releases a menthol flavor. The novelty appeal of the new sticks mixed with advertising placed in media targeted towards young people are a bad combo, according to the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association, among others.
In 2010–the most recent year data was available–Camel increased its market share to people aged 12-17 by 20%, and the Crush variety is being blamed. In fact, menthol cigarettes have been under fire for quite a while for their popularity among young people, and a ban on them has already been proposed by the FDA.
Camel has seen its share of controversy over the years for aiming at a youthful audience; in 2007, when Camel No. 9 cigarettes were introduced, the company gave away lip gloss and purses and, not surprisingly, they were enormously popular with teen girls. The company’s mascot, Joe Camel, was discontinued after several groups argued that a cartoon camel only marketed the cigarettes to kids and teens even more.
The most recent uproar over Camel Crush suggests that the company may be in violation of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, which says that no tobacco company may market their products to children. Camel is accused of placing ads in at least 24 different magazines that appeal to a young audience.