No-Additive Cigarettes Not Safer
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Federal regulators said today they have reached an agreement with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to put notices on the company’s Winston cigarette ads that, just because they have no additives does not mean they are safer.
The agreement will settle a charge by the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates advertising, that the ads for Winston ``no additives″ cigarettes are deceptive. The federal agency charged that RJR implied in the ads, without any basis, that the Winston cigarettes are safer to smoke because they contain no additives.
In future ads, Reynolds has agreed to carry a disclosure that states: ``No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette.″
The FTC’s complaint had charged that Reynolds represented the cigarettes as being less hazardous than comparable cigarettes containing additives.
``Frankly, there’s no such thing as ’Safe Smoke,‴ said Jodie Bernstein, the FTC’s director of consumer protection.
One commissioner, Orson Swindle, in voting to accept the proposed agreement, wrote that he was convinced that ``many consumers interpret ads containing express ‘no additive’ claims to mean that Winston’s are not as harmful as other cigarettes.″
R.J. Reynolds, in a statement, said it has never in its marketing materials made a direct or implied claim that a no-additive product is safer for smokers.
``We disagree with the FTC’s premise, and our own research demonstrated that smokers do not interpret the phrases to mean that Winston is safe or safer than other cigarettes,″ the company said.
Under the proposed settlement, Reynolds would include the disclosure in all advertising for Winston no-additive cigarettes, regardless of whether the advertising contains a ``no additive″ claim, for a period of one year beginning no later than July 15, 1999. After that, Reynolds must include the disclosure in all products that it represents as having no additives.
The disclosure is not required if Reynolds has scientific evidence showing that ``no additive″ cigarettes pose lower health risks than other cigarettes.
The disclosure must be placed in a rectangular box 40 percent of the size of the Surgeon General’s health warning on cigarettes, in a clear and prominent location. Reynolds would also instruct its sales representatives to place a disclosure on any advertisement in a store, under the settlement.
The proposed agreement is subject to a 60-day comment period before the FTC decides whether to make it final.