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Attorney General Reaches Settlement With United States Tobacco Company Over Alleged Advertisement Violations

U.S. Tobacco Agreed to Run Anti-Tobacco-Use Ads
Wednesday, December 6, 2000
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced a settlement with United States Tobacco Company, the nation's leading manufacturer of smokeless tobacco products which distributed coupons in a California State University newspaper.

In the settlement, United States Tobacco agreed not to distribute tobacco coupons in The Daily Aztec, or in any other free newspaper at the University, in the future. In addition, the company agreed to pay $150,000 which was used to develop an alternative (anti-tobacco-use) advertisement that was published in The Daily Aztec November 29, November 30 and December 4, 2000. U.S. Tobacco also agreed to use part of these funds to defray investigative costs. In reaching the settlement, the company did not admit to any wrongdoing.

The dispute arose when the company placed an advertising insert for "Rooster" brand smokeless tobacco in The Daily Aztec, the free student newspaper at California State University, San Diego. In each insert there was a coupon for $1.00 off a can of "Rooster." Fifteen thousand copies of the newspaper with the advertisement inside were distributed on the San Diego State University campus.

The Attorney General alleged that the coupon distribution violated state law, which prohibits the non-sale distribution of coupons for tobacco products on public grounds (Health & Safety Code section 118950).

"This settlement sends a clear message to other tobacco companies who might consider similar promotional activities on public college campuses in California," Lockyer explained. "I am gratified that U.S. Tobacco agreed to pay for an alternative ad that will help get the important message out to our young people that using smokeless tobacco places their health at serious risk."

The Attorney General's Office seeks to ensure compliance with state laws involving tobacco and with the recent Master Settlement Agreement. Inquiries and reports of suspected violations can be made by calling 916-565-6486.

To obtain a copy of the advertisement which ran in The Daily Aztec, please contact the Attorney General's Press Office: 916-324-5500.

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