Senate Bill in Okla. Targets Cigarette Marketing Methods

Article excerpt

Targeted marketing is not a crime, but the method some cigarette companies have been using to collect potential customers' information would become a misdemeanor if Senate Bill 1745 becomes law.

State Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton, filed SB 1745 in response to a direct marketing plan most aggressively pursued by J.R. Reynolds Tobacco's Camel brand cigarettes, though other companies also engage in the practice. The company sends representatives into bars, particularly establishments that cater to college-age customers, offering free cigarettes as a way to get a hold of patrons' driver's licenses.

"They offer the (college) student a free sample, but ask to see their driver's license first to make sure they're at least 18," said Bass. "But the tobacco representative then scans the driver's license with a hand-held reader that captures every bit of data, including name, age, address and other information."

The person will then receive all sorts of promotional materials in the mail, from coupons for cigarettes to branded cigarette holders, shot glasses, money clips, etc. In exchange for a pack or two of free cigarettes, the person will have provided their contact information for the tobacco company's marketing database.

Hackers and identity thieves have been able to compromise the business records of numerous retailers, said Bass. State Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, questioned if that information would be sold to third-party marketers, or if the practice would become the marketing method of choice for other products as well. …