FDA Seeks Marketing Information for Marlboro Lights

Philip Morris must provide U.S. regulators with all its market research data on <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/light_cigarettes">Marlboro Lights, wrote Reuters. Concern over ads for the popular cigarette are said to have prompted the request.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wrote to Altria Group, Inc., Philip Morris’ parent company, expressing concerns over the ads “onserts,” which are attached to Marlboro Lights packs, said Reuters. Meanwhile, a ban is effective tomorrow prohibiting cigarette makers from promoting cigarettes as “light,” “mild,” or “low” representing the key provision in the federal law that will enable the FDA to regulate tobacco products, according to Reuters.

“By stating that only the packaging is changing, but the cigarettes will stay the same, the onsert suggests that Marlboro in the gold pack will have the same characteristics as Marlboro Lights, including any mistaken attributes associated with the ‘light’ cigarettes,” the FDA letter read, quoted Reuters. Altria has until July 30 to provide all requested materials to the FDA, said Reuters. Materials include “themes, creative recommendations, and dissemination strategies,” wrote Reuters, citing the FDA’s letter.

Meanwhile, on September 10, 2009, eight “light” cigarettes lawsuits were consolidated in a Multidistrict Litigation. In the Transfer Order, the Panel noted that all eight lawsuits share factual issues as to whether Philip Morris and/or Altria engaged in deceptive marketing of their light cigarettes and/or manipulated the design of those cigarettes to deliver more tar and nicotine when smoked than when tested by the government.

One of the lawsuits was filed by the law firm of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/">Parker Waichman Alonso LLP on behalf of a man who suffered economic damages as a result of misrepresentations made about Marlboro Lights cigarettes. The lawsuit alleged that as early as 1971, Philip Morris USA deceptively marketed Marlboro Lights cigarettes as a less dangerous alternative to regular cigarettes, and further alleged that Philip Morris USA falsely claimed that Marlboro Lights had “Lowered Tar and Nicotine,” even though the company knew those cigarettes would not deliver less tar or nicotine to the consumer.

Research has shown that smokers who switch to “light” cigarettes from regular cigarettes compensate for the lower nicotine level by inhaling more deeply; taking larger, more rapid, or more frequent puffs; or by increasing the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Millions of Americans have smoked “low-tar,” “mild,” or “light” cigarettes, believing them to be less harmful than other cigarettes. Many of these cigarettes were falsely marketed as “safe” or “harmless.” But, various studies have proven that “light” cigarettes are just as dangerous as other varieties. For instance, a Philip Morris memo from 1975 was made public that proved cigarette makers were aware that smokers of light cigarettes took longer puffs and inhaled larger amounts of tar than those who smoked other version.

The controversy over “light” cigarettes has spawned dozens of lawsuits claiming billions of dollars in damages and, the FTC is known to have told the court that the tobacco industry had known for at least 30 years that light cigarettes were not safer, saying that the use of labels such as “light,” “ultra light” or “low tar” did little but fool smokers into thinking they faced less of a health risk.

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