LEAD: An hour after he was sworn in yesterday, New York City's Consumer Affairs Commissioner, Mark Green, took on one of the nation's largest tobacco companies, R. J. Reynolds, saying that it was ''inducing children to smoke.''
An hour after he was sworn in yesterday, New York City's Consumer Affairs Commissioner, Mark Green, took on one of the nation's largest tobacco companies, R. J. Reynolds, saying that it was ''inducing children to smoke.''
Mr. Green's specific target was an advertising campaign that uses a cartoon character of a camel - sometimes dressed in a tuxedo or wearing sunglasses, but always smoking and always with a beautiful woman nearby - to promote Camel Cigarettes. He said the use of a cartoon figure clearly appealed to young people.
In a letter sent yesterday to Nabisco's chairman, Louis V. Gerstner Jr., Mr. Green wrote, ''As the father of two young children and the new Commissioner of Consumer Affairs, I am appalled at your 'Smooth Character' Camel advertising campaign that risks addicting children to cigarettes.''
In the past month, R. J. Reynolds - a division of RJR Nabisco - has been criticized for its plans to market two cigarette brands, one aimed primarily at blacks and the other at young, blue-collar white women.
Carefully Orchestrated Campaign
A spokesman for R. J. Reynolds, David Fishel, said: ''As usual, he chose to release it to the media before he gave it to the company, which says to us that what he has done today seems to be part of a very carefully orchestrated campaign by anti-smoking activists to provide a publicity backdrop for the anti-smoking legislation hearings held in Washington today.''
The Senate Labor Committee is considering a bill that would give the Federal Government the power to ban dangerous additives from cigarettes and require that cigarette packs both list additives and carry a warning that smoking is addictive.
''The Camel campaign is three years old,'' Mr. Fishel said. ''It is not aimed at kids. We have seen no evidence in the three years of the program that it has any particular youth appeal.''
Mr. Green said his concern had been focused by an advertisement in Rolling Stone magazine, offering posters of the ''Smooth Character'' cartoon.
'Effort to Lure Children'
''It wasn't until I spotted the perforated fold at the bottom of the 'Rolling Stone' poster,'' which allows readers to delete the congressionally mandated warning label, that I decided to write you,'' Mr. Green wrote to Mr. Gerstner. ''Isn't this ad campaign an obvious effort to lure children into smoking in violation of the tobacco industry's own 1964 code against advertising directed at children?''
The letter went on to ask: ''Who watches and talks about cartoon characters, kids or adults? Who is impressionable enough to associate smoking and success and money, kids or adults?''
Mr. Green, 44 years old, was sworn in to the $97,000-a-year post by Mayor David N. Dinkins at noon, in the Board of Estimate Room at City Hall, with his wife, Deni Frand, and his two children, Jenya, 11, and Jonah, 5, at his side.
A senior campaign adviser to the Mayor, Mr. Green has long been a consumer advocate.