OLYMPIA - March 19, 2001 - Washington state Attorney General Christine Gregoire today filed suit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in a coordinated effort with four other state attorneys general to force compliance with the 1998 National Tobacco Settlement.
The Washington lawsuit, filed today in King County Superior Court, accuses the tobacco giant and manufacturer of Winston cigarettes of violating tobacco settlement limits on outdoor advertising at Winston-sponsored events at Seattle International Raceway and Evergreen Speedway in Monroe.
The suit, similar to actions also filed today by the states of California and Arizona, alleges the company is in violation of the 1998 settlement agreement by allowing displays advertising Winston-sponsored races to remain posted beyond the time allowed.
Under the settlement agreement reached between the companies and attorneys general in November 1998, tobacco companies agreed to discontinue outdoor advertising except under limited circumstances, such as at brand name sponsored events. In those cases, tobacco companies are allowed to advertise at the event site from 90 days before the event to 10 days after.
Tobacco advertising was found at both tracks, well outside the 100-day window surrounding Winston-sponsored events - Evergreen's Winston West Series NASCAR Race in June, and S.I.R.'s NHRA Winston Drag Racing in July.
In the lawsuit, Gregoire is asking that the court rule that R.J. Reynolds is in violation of the settlement and that all existing company-sponsored event advertising be removed immediately.
"A key element of the tobacco settlement was to limit young people's exposure to tobacco advertising," Gregoire said. "Each day 3,000 more children start smoking, and with these lawsuits we are challenging RJR's commitment to help these kids grow up tobacco free."
Attorneys general in California and Ohio also filed lawsuits against RJR today accusing them of violating other advertising limitations spelled out in the tobacco settlement.