Public Backlash
Joe Camel's Camel Cash, issued in the 1980s, left.

While the cigarette advertisements may have been successful in the market, they also created a great deal of distrust and animosity towards the tobacco industry, as the Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights site shows.

The site includes information about the tobacco industry, tobacco industry "shenanigans," legislative and advocacy alerts and smokefree airports.

From alt.culture.com's definition of Joe Camel:

Joe Camel

Garish sax-playing and pool-hustling dromedary endowed with a phallically suggestive proboscis. The creature is credited with kick-starting sales for R.J. Reynolds's Camel brand, the seventh-best-selling cigarette in the U.S. (but second only to Marlboro among the under-21 set). Created by British artist Nicholas Price for a Camel campaign in France, Joe Camel was imported by Reynolds in 1988. The ultramasculine "smooth character" became the lightning-rod for criticism that was eventually endorsed by President Clinton's anti-underage-smoking initiatives. In 1991 a contested study found children were as likely to recognize Joe Camel as they were Mickey Mouse; another report found a significant increase in adolescent smoking after the launch of the Camel character. Reynolds denied allegations it was pandering to children, and the wily 'toon survived an attempted 1993 ban by the FTC. "This certainly ought to be the end of the opposition to Joe Camel," said one Camel advertising executive after the ruling. Reynolds added a line of Joe Camel merchandise to be bought with "Camel cash," and from 1995 to 1996 its Camel ad spending increased by 75 percent.

In June 1997, the FTC hit Camel with an unfair-advertising complaint, and a massive tobacco company liability settlement banned cartoon advertising for cigarettes. A month later, Joe Camel was put out to pasture, replaced by an updated version of the brand's traditional Old Joe image.

At left, click on the image for Adbusters.org's treatment of Joe Camel. Joe and other magazine images are parodied at this site.

Reason Online's article, "Cowboys, Camels, and Kids: Does advertising turn people into smokers?" asks the question Congress had been trying to figure out for years. R. J. Reynolds finally retired Joe Camel July 10, 1997.

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