Merchant continues on after striking cigarette brand
June 5, 2007
One South Lake Tahoe business owner’s bottom line hasn’t been hurt by a decision not to carry three brands of cigarettes he believes are tailoring their marketing campaigns to children.
“There’s no doubt that we’ve lost some Camel business, but overall sales are up,” said Liquor Shack owner Al Browne on Tuesday. “We’re up 15 to 20 percent from the same month last year. For whatever reason we’re doing much better.”
Browne vowed not to restock R.J. Reynolds products, including Camel, Winston and Pall Mall brand cigarettes, in March.
He disagrees with some of R.J. Reynolds advertising strategies, including the height at which the company requires their advertisements to be displayed and a colorized depiction of a camel he feels is a cartoon.
Children would be the prime recipients of the advertisements’ messages, according to Browne.
In April, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds flatly denied the company markets its products to kids, citing 1998’s master Settlement Agreement, which prohibits the use of cartoons like “Joe Camel” in cigarette advertisements.
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Two or three customers have voiced their unhappiness with the decision not to carry the brands, but Browne stopped short of calling them angry.
“They probably won’t be coming back,” he said.
The Tahoe Douglas Rotarian said he doesn’t have more than four cartons of R.J. Reynolds cigarettes left over from his last order three months ago, and he has no intention of breaking his pledge to keep the brands off his shelves.
“It’s been over the top,” said Browne. “As far as the locals go, we’ve received nothing but support.”