The surgeon general and the American Medical Association Monday demanded that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. get rid of its "Old Joe" cartoon camel cigarette advertising because it appeals too much to kids.
"In years past, R.J. Reynolds would have us walk a mile for a Camel," Surgeon General Antonia Novello said. "Today, it's time that we invite `Old Joe' camel himself to take a hike."Novello said that she was calling for the removal of this particular cartoon character because there are studies that indicate it's easily recognized by kids.
Studies published last December in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that more than half of 229 children ages 3 to 6 recognized "Old Joe" as a cigarette ad. That's almost as many as recognized that Ford and Chevrolet were cars.
That's more than five times as many as recognized what the surgeon general's warning on the cigarette packs is all about.
R.J. Reynolds had no immediate comment. When the studies were published, the Tobacco Institute said there was no evidence that the effectiveness of the ad translates into getting children to smoke.
Dr. James S. Todd, executive vice president of the AMA, said that despite the cigarette industry's claims that children are not being targeted, the manufacturers have to expand their market.
"Any industry which kills more than 435,000 of its best customers every year must find new customers," Todd said.