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  1. John Slade
  1. Department of Environmental and Community Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
  1. Program in Addictions, 317 George Street, Suite 201, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901, USA;jdslade{at}

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Joe and his cartoon-character friends began populating advertisements for the Camel brand in the United States in 1988 and continued doing so for the next decade (figure 1). As described in a fawning retrospective produced for RJ Reynolds: “Between 1988 and 1997, the Joe Camel campaign was one of the most recognized ad campaigns in America, and that was due largely to its fans, devotees of Joe who appreciated the wit and irreverence he personified.”1

Figure 1

Joe Camel.

The campaign also was among the most notorious. Beginning in December 1991, a number of researchers called attention to the way the Joe Camel character was attractive to young people.2-4 Concerns about the youth appeal of the campaign led to calls by public health and medical leaders for Reynolds to withdraw it, to …

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