Law Bans “Light,” “Mild,” “Low” Labels on Cigarettes

Earlier this week, a law banning tobacco makers from using certain terms in product names that could mislead consumers, such as <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/light_cigarettes">“light,” “mild,” and “low” became effective. The Sun Times noted that manufactures have moved to using color-coding to differentiate their product lines.

Last year, President Barack Obama signed The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law meant to allow the federal government broad authority over tobacco products and enable regulators to control cigarette packaging and marketing. The law is also meant to allow how much nicotine—the addictive component in cigarettes—is added in tobacco products.

For instance, said the Sun Times, Camel Lights are now Camel Blue Pack; Marlboro Lights are Marlboro Gold Pack; and Marlboro Ultra Lights are Marlboro Silver Pack. “They were already colors that are part of the packaging and the imagery on the packaging,” said David Howard, spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., quoted the Sun Times. R.J. Reynolds owns five of the United States’ most popular cigarette brands, which includes Camel, Pall Mall, and Winston, wrote the Sun Times.

“Research has already shown that using words such as ‘light,’ ‘mild,’ and ‘low tar’ on cigarette packaging misleads consumers into thinking that one brand carries a lower health risk than another and that’s why those words have been outlawed in more than 50 countries,” said David Hammond, a professor of health studies at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, quoted Science Daily previously.

Citing his research, Hammond said, “Our study found that commonly-used words not covered by the bans, as well as other packaging design elements such as colour, the use of numbers and references to filters, were just as misleading, which means there’s a loophole that needs to be closed,” Hammond added.

Science Daily pointed out that not only is tobacco use the number one cause of preventable death worldwide, but the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over five million people die annually from smoking.

“An important function of tobacco marketing has been to reassure consumers about the product’s risks and a central feature of the strategy has been to promote the perception that some cigarettes are less hazardous than others, so that health-concerned smokers are encouraged to switch brands rather than quit,” Hammond said.

“The truth is that all cigarettes are equally hazardous, regardless of the filter type, what colour the pack is or what words appear on it. These tactics are giving consumers a false sense of reassurance that simply does not exist,” said Hammond, quoted Science Daily.

Each year, cigarettes result in about 443,000 deaths and $100 billion spent in healthcare costs in the United States. Recently, Reuters reported that U.S. researchers found that Americans are inhaling more cancer-causing ingredients when smoking, which is likely due to tobacco blends; Canadian, British, and Australian smokers apparently take in less of these dangerous ingredients, noted Reuters.

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