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U.S. Surgeon General Antonia Novello and the American Medical Association last week jointly demanded that the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company stop using a controversial cartoon camel in its advertisements for Camel cigarettes because they say the character specifically appeals to children.

Dr. Novello said the "Old Joe'' character that appears in the advertisements is designed to persuade young people to start smoking and has a special appeal among young children. She cited as evidence a study that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association in December that found that 6-year-olds were as familiar with the Old Joe character as they were with Mickey Mouse.

"In years past, R.J. Reynolds would have had us walk a mile for a Camel,'' she said, referring to an old ad campaign slogan. "Today, it's time that we invite 'Old Joe' Camel to take a hike.''

However, Dr. Novello does not have the power to order the company to stop using the cartoon camel.

The company's campaign also was criticized in an editorial in the industry trade journal Advertising Age in January.

Officials at R.J. Reynolds said they had no plans to change the advertising campaign. "We reject the notion that advertising leads to initiation of smoking,'' a statement released by the company said.

Vol. 11, Issue 26

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