FDA: End of the line for so-called “natural” and “additive-free” tobacco products

American Spirit
Not any more “Natural” than any other brand.

Awesome story. The Food and Drug Administration told RJ Reynolds and other cigarette companies to stop it with their false advertising about “natural tobacco” cigarette products — this includes the infamous “American Spirit” brand of cigarettes.

American Spirit claims to be a “natural, additive-free” cigarette brand. A lot of people believe these are Native-made cigarettes, but in fact, American Spirit is a wholly owned subsidiary of RJ Reynolds, makers of Camel cigarettes and plenty of other nasty-ass brands. It’s all a big show that has fooled many people.

From an NBC article:

“The FDA has determined that these products, described as ‘natural’ and ‘additive-free’ on their labeling, need an FDA modified risk tobacco product order before they can be legally introduced as such into interstate commerce,” the agency said in a statement.

“The FDA’s job is to ensure tobacco products are not marketed in a way that leads consumers to believe cigarettes with descriptors like ‘additive-free’ and ‘natural’ pose fewer health risks than other cigarettes, unless the claims have been scientifically supported,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.

“This action is a milestone, and a reminder of how we use the tools of science-based regulation to protect the U.S. public from the harmful effects of tobacco use.”

This affects a couple of other brands, but American Spirit is the most high-profile. This has been yet again one of Big Tobacco’s big lies. That somehow tobacco brands with fewer additives are “natural” and (hint, hint) without actually coming right out and saying so, because coming right out and saying so would be incredibly @#$%ing illegal, they’re some safer or healthier.

Lucky Strike cigarette ad 1940s

Nope, nope, nope, nothing could be further from the truth. These brands (two others I hadn’t heard of previously are Nat Sherman and ITG) are NOT safer and do NOT contain fewer additives. Many years ago, Big Tobacco kept trying to find sneaky and dishonest ways to market their products as somehow being safer or “approved by doctors.” The industry’s lies about these ads was long ago exposed. The whole “natural” and “additive-free” lie is using the same techniques as the old “four out of five doctors approve Camels” ads from the 1940s and 1950s.

The FDA several years ago was given regulatory authority over tobacco and specifically nicotine by a bill signed by Barack Obama. That authority gives the FDA the authority to control the marketing of cigarette products. The whole “natural, additive-free” fight has been a thorn in the side of tobacco control advocates for years. And now, it appears the FDA isn’t screwing around and cracking down.

By the same token, I believe the FDA could use this same power to crack down on the marketing of e-cigs, since they are likewise a nicotine product.

As an aside, several years ago, a really angry email from me actually convinced Discovery Magazine to drop “American Spirit” ads from its magazine. A reminder that giving a damn can make a real difference sometimes.

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