City slams Camel for ad campaign that asks smokers to love the Haight

San Francisco’s famed counterculture neighborhood should not be used to sell cigarettes, says at least one city official.

On Monday, R.J. Reynolds was sent a letter asking the North Carolina-based company to cease its “Break Free Adventure Campaign” and recall the associated special edition cigarette packs that reference San Francisco and the Haight neighborhood, according to City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

“This 10-city adventure game shamelessly appeals to you by featuring cities, including San Francisco, that are associated with independent music, trendiness, rebellion and freedom,” the letter said. Reynolds is “exploiting the name and image of the Haight, a historically significant San Francisco neighborhood that is associated with youth counterculture and rebellion, to market cigarettes to young people.”

A spokesman for the cigarette multimillion-dollar corporation, David Howard, said the ad campaign is “designed for and marketed to adult smokers.” He had not seen Herrera’s letter and declined to comment on it directly.

The tobacco company has come under criticism in the past for its ad campaigns. In 1997, The City was involved in a lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds for using the Joe Camel cartoon character to sell cigarettes, which ultimately led the company to abandon the character throughout the nation.

San Francisco has had a number of successes in battling tobacco companies, including its recent ban on the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies and grocery stores with pharmacies. And The City continues to increase the number of places in San Francisco were people can't smoke, most recently snuffing out cigarette smoke in outdoor patios of restaurants.

Smoking remains the No. 1 preventable cause of death in San Francisco, according to the letter.

Herrera’s letter comes days after the Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, issued a statement condemning the marketing campaign.

“The most disturbing part of RJR’s campaign is that it shamelessly appropriates the names and images of the locations involved to promote Camel cigarettes in ways that appeal to youth,” Myers said in the statement.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsDennis HerreraGovernment & PoliticsLocalPoliticssmoking

Just Posted

San Francisco health experts recommend that pregnant women should receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as a booster shot. (Unai Huizi/Shutterstock)
What pregnant women need to know about COVID and booster shots

Questions regarding COVID-19 booster shots for pregnant people have been pouring in… Continue reading

Examiner reporter Ben Schneider drives an Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle along Beach Street in Fisherman’s Wharf on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Could San Francisco’s tiny tourist cruisers become the cars of the future?

‘Fun Utility Vehicles’ have arrived in The City

Badly needed rain cooled off pedestrians on Market Street in The City on Wednesday. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Storm door opens in San Francisco — what will the rains bring?

‘Come Monday, fire season in Northern California should be done’

The so-called “twindemic” that public health officials in California and elsewhere warned about last year — the combined threat of influenza and COVID-19 — was largely eased by the wide use of face masks, physical distancing and reduced travel, experts say. But their concerns are back this year. (Shutterstock)
COVID and the flu: Is a ‘twindemic’ threat lurking again?

‘Because of so little disease last year, population immunity is likely lower’

49ers' quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo hopes to return to the field this weekend to lead San Francisco against the Colts. (Photo courtesy of 49ers)
NFL Week 7 picks: Niners face crucial matchup against the Colts

San Francisco could join Seattle on the brink of irrelevancy in the NFC West with another loss

Most Read