updated 10/6/2004 7:39:24 PM ET 2004-10-06T23:39:24

Makers of Kool cigarettes have agreed to limit a hip-hop theme marketing campaign and pay almost $1.5 million for anti-smoking programs following lawsuits claiming they targeted young people.

The six-year-old "Kool Mixx" promotional program has recently included the nationwide distribution of interactive CD-ROMs with hip-hop music, cigarette packs with hip-hop designs and a "House of Menthol" Web site, according to state officials.

Attorneys general from Illinois, New York and Maryland filed lawsuits this year claiming the campaign violated the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with tobacco companies because it targeted young people.

The trio on Wednesday announced a settlement with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. that prohibits the inclusion of hip-hop songs on the CD-ROM. The settlement also bans the use of "Kool," "Mixx" or "House of Menthol" on any merchandise; bars the sale of "special edition" packs in retail stores and prohibits the "House of Menthol" Web site.

The company also agreed to pay $1.46 million toward youth smoking prevention.

"This campaign targeted a hip-hop audience, including youth," said Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran. "I hope this settlement sends a strong message that kids are off-limits for tobacco companies."

Curran made the announcement with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The three sued Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., which merged with R.J. Reynolds this summer.

The company acknowledged no wrongdoing in the settlement, which will be submitted to courts for final approval.

"The agreement satisfies the questions raised by the three attorneys general without unduly restricting R.J. Reynolds' ability to effectively communicate with the only audience we have been and continue to be interested in communicating with: adult smokers," said Charles A. Blixt, executive vice president and general counsel of R.J. Reynolds.

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