Deconstructing Tobacco

The RJR documents on Camels and kids—a MoJo Wire <A HREF="/news_wire/tobacco_doc1.html">annotation</A>.

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It’s not often evidence emerges that shows a corporation contemplating a life of crime as part of its overall marketing strategy. Then again, only few companies make a product that, as the old joke goes, kills you when used as directed.

As part of the settlement of a lawsuit brought against R.J. Reynolds by more than a dozen California cities and counties for targeting children with its marketing campaigns, the cigarette-maker recently released thousands of pages of confidential marketing documents, many of which reveal how the company hoped to “youthen [its] brand” by targeting “the 14 to 24 age group.”

RJR denies the documents were ever meant to be implemented as part of a marketing strategy. Perhaps. But it is interesting to note that the documents below—with all their “cool attitudes” references—were written in 1986, two years before the introduction of our favorite, recently departed phallic symbol, Joe Camel.

Marketing to children is one thing, but there’s something else going on here—an abstract academese that conspires with smoke-blowing adspeak to produce a work of such euphemistic repetition that we can’t help but wonder if perhaps a new addition to the Surgeon General’s disclaimer repertoire is in order: WARNING: Selling cigarettes may cause brain damage, and may complicate candor, decency, and the ability to communicate without using phrases like “full/authentic smoking satisfaction.”

For your full reading satisfaction, we’ve annotated one of the latest “smoking gun” documents. Just move your mouse over the highlighted areas—and enjoy.

Start here.

G. Beato is a regular contributor to Suck and Mother Jones.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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