Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tobacco industry appears to have evaded FDA ban on 'light' cigarette descriptors

Date:
March 13, 2013
Source:
Harvard School of Public Health
Summary:
New research shows one year after the U.S. government passed a law banning such descriptors as "light," "mild," and "low" on cigarette packages, smokers can identify their brands because of color-coding that tobacco companies added to "light" packs after the ban. These findings suggest the companies have been able to evade the ban on misleading wording and still convey false and deceptive message that lights are safer than "regular" cigarettes.

New research from Harvard School of Public Health (HPSH) shows that one year after the federal government passed a law banning word descriptors such as "light," "mild," and "low" on cigarette packages, smokers can still easily identify their brands because of color-coding that tobacco companies added to "light" packs after the ban. These findings suggest that the companies have, in effect, been able to evade the ban on misleading wording -- thus still conveying the false and deceptive message that lights are safer than "regular" cigarettes.

In addition, the companies failed to apply for applications to have these products approved as "new products" as called for by the law.

The study was published online March 13, 2013 in Tobacco Control.

"The tobacco industry was found guilty by a federal court in 2006 for deceptively promoting 'light' cigarettes as safer after countless smokers who switched to lights died prematurely, thinking they had reduced their health risks. After a new federal law was passed in 2009 to end the tobacco industry's deceptive marketing practices, the industry has apparently circumvented it by using new and sophisticated ways to deceive consumers and has not sought Food and Drug Administration approval for these products as required by law," said study co-author Gregory Connolly, director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at HSPH and professor of the practice of public health in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

After the U.S. Surgeon General's 1964 report found that cigarette smoking causes disease, tobacco companies began marketing "light" cigarettes with ventilation holes that allowed air to mix with smoke, which the companies said would limit the amount of smoke a person would inhale. However, a 2001 National Cancer Institute (NCI) report found that smokers compensate for the lower smoke yield in "light" cigarettes -- and thus ingest as much tar and nicotine as "regular" cigarettes -- by smoking more intensely, more often, or by blocking the ventilation holes with their fingers or lips.

In 2006, a U.S. federal court ruled that tobacco companies should be banned from any future use of descriptive words that convey a false health message. The FDA -- given the authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009 as part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act -- subsequently issued its ban.

To see whether the tobacco companies were complying with or circumventing the ban, the HSPH researchers examined retailer manuals from the tobacco company Philip Morris; manufacturers' annual reports filed with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health; national cigarette sales data; and the results of a 2011 national public opinion survey that included questions about smokers' perceptions of their brands being "light" or regular.

The study describes how Philip Morris removed the terms "light," "ultra-light," and "mild" from cigarette packs and substituted new brand names and colors. For example, the "Marlboro Light" brand was renamed "Marlboro Gold," "Marlboro Mild" was renamed "Marlboro Blue," and Marlboro Ultra-light" was renamed "Marlboro Silver." Other tobacco companies made similar changes. The cigarettes themselves remained unchanged, however; the percentage of ventilation in each category of "light" sub-brands was the same after being renamed and given a new color descriptor. Ventilation is the principle determinant of whether a cigarette is called "light."

In addition, the study notes that a Philip Morris brochure for retailers stated, "Some cigarette and smokeless packaging is changing, but the product remains the same. For trade use only: not to be shown or distributed to consumers."

In the public opinion survey, more than 90% of the smoker respondents said that, one year after the FDA ban, they found it either "somewhat easy" (10%) or "very easy" (82%) to identify their usual brand of cigarettes -- in other words, they still thought of certain brands as "light" even though the packages did not use the "light" descriptors.

"This study demonstrates the continued attempts of the industry to avoid reasonable regulation of tobacco products. Scrutiny is needed by the FDA and courts to ensure that tobacco manufacturers comply with the law and that their products no longer convey false impressions of reduced risk," said study co-author Hillel Alpert, research scientist in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

The results will be presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Nicotine and Tobacco research on March 14, 2013 in Boston.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gregory N Connolly, Hillel R Alpert. Has the tobacco industry evaded the FDA's ban on ‘Light’ cigarette descriptors? Tobacco Control, 13 March 2013 DOI: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050746

Cite This Page:

Harvard School of Public Health. "Tobacco industry appears to have evaded FDA ban on 'light' cigarette descriptors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313182251.htm>.
Harvard School of Public Health. (2013, March 13). Tobacco industry appears to have evaded FDA ban on 'light' cigarette descriptors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313182251.htm
Harvard School of Public Health. "Tobacco industry appears to have evaded FDA ban on 'light' cigarette descriptors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313182251.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins