Score one for the beleaguered tobacco industry. In a nonpublic vote on May 31, the Federal Trade Commission opted not to ban R.J. Reynolds Tobacco's controversial Joe Camel ads. Since 1991, health groups have sought to muzzle the sun-glasses-wearing spokescamel, whom they viewed as a slick marketing device to hook minors on Camel cigarettes. While FTC Chairman Janet Steiger and Democratic Commissioner Dennis Yao voted for a ban, the other three members were concerned about crimping RJR's First Amendment rights, according to commission insiders. They also worried about the lack of conclusive evidence against RJR. A company spokesman, not surprisingly, says, "We're obviously pleased."
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