Friday, October 9, 2009

FDA: No more light, ultra light, or other similiar descriptors

For many years Big Tobacco has used language light, ultra light, low tar, mild, and other descriptors of their products, mostly cigarettes. Typically Big Tobacco uses color association as well as descriptors. For example Marlboro Milds uses a blue package and the language of mild invoking a sense of reduced harm and potentially a safer product. Many smokers believe that lights or milds are not as harmful as other products.

Not to be outdone by Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds changed the packaging of Camel Lights to reflect the belief that smokers perceive the language of lights and blue colors as possibly safer. Pall Mall (also owned by R.J. Reynolds) uses blue for their Pall Mall Brand Lights. These changes were made prior to the FDA regulation of tobacco. In the minds of smokers the connect has already been between the colors and language of lights and milds. Pall Mall will be changing their brand language from Light to Blues in order to comply with the new FDA regulation. This example further shows smoker's association between light and blue packaging. These colors will be what convey the message of safer or potentially healthier to smokers, the words aren't as important as the marketing and packaging that comes with it.  
More below the break

The prohibition of words like Light and Mild does not take effect until June 22, 2010. So why might you ask is SFW discussing this now? That would be because many manufacturers are changing their products now to ensure their customers remain loyal to the their brand. Internet retailers have these products listed under their new brand name but in paratheses list what the old product was called (see example). Phillips Morris has not released its plans for changing the marketing of its products as of yet. R.J. Reynolds, the second largest manufacturer of tobacco products is trying to maintain its stronghold within the market by changing their packaging far in advance of the effective date of the FDA provisions. This is yet another one of tobacco's dirty tricks. They know people associate color with the words and the packaging furthers this concept in the minds of smokers. 

Wisconsin's own Dr. Fiore: In his medical office, Dr. Michael Fiore regularly encounters patients seduced by labeling that touts cigarettes lower in tar and nicotine. “They will say, ‘Doc, I know I shouldn’t be smoking, but at least I’ve switched to these mild, low-tar lights,’ ’’ said Fiore, director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention. “These are individuals who have a chronic case of tobacco dependence and are struggling to break free of it, and that struggle is compromised by labeling that gives them a false and deadly sense of reassurance.’’ 

To read more about this emerging issue please read the Boston Globe Article. 

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