Ad Burns Smokeless Tobacco Company

Discussion
Jun 19, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson


US Smokeless Tobacco, manufacturer of Copenhagen and Skoal, has been accused
of irresponsible behavior for sending free samples of its products to Marines
stationed in Iraq.


Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Bill Janklow, R-S.D. sent a letter to the
company suggesting its actions amounted to an attempt “to revive the disastrous
policy of distributing free tobacco products to men and women in the armed services.”
The policy of providing tobacco products as part of ration kits ended in 1975.


According to The Associated Press, lawmakers and the armed services
became aware of US Smokeless Tobacco’s action from an ad in USA Today
showing Marines holding cans of moist smokeless tobacco and displaying letters
of gratitude to the tobacco company.


Maj. Mike Neumann, a spokesman for the Marine Corps, said US Smokeless Tobacco
was sent a letter outlining the free tobacco-ban policy and asking the company
not to run the ad again.


A spokesman for US Tobacco, Mike Bazinet, sent the company product after receiving
requests from Marines stationed in Iraq.


Moderator’s Comment: What is your reaction to this
story?


Firstly, while we do not use tobacco products for health
reasons we strongly support the right of adults to make the personal choice
to use tobacco and retailers to sell it.


We do have to admit disappointment with UST’s response
that its 1998 agreement with 45 states to not give away free product didn’t
apply in this case because the samples were sent overseas. The company’s response,
in our view, took hair splitting to the cellular level.


Technically, the company is right. Free samples weren’t
sent to any of the states involved in the tobacco settlement. Can we safely
assume, however, that at least some of the Marines receiving free Copenhagen
or Skoal were legal residents of those states?

[George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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