FDA reaches agreement with Natural American Spirit

The FDA and Natural American Spirit cigarettes have been locked in a legal battle for a couple of years now over the brand’s advertising that its tobacco is “natural” and “additive-free.”

The FDA  reached an agreement (secretly, apparently) with American Spirit that allows the brand (owned by Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company which is not an independent company, it’s actually a wholly-owned subsidiary of RJ Reynolds) to keep “Natural” in its name, but that it must stop all advertising that its tobacco is “additive-free”. The FDA way back in August 2015 gave American Spirit a cease and desist order on its advertising. RJ Reynolds filed an appeal and for more than a year, I’ve continued seeing American Spirit ads in my Sports Illustrated, still touting “natural!” and “additive-free.”

The agreement was reached in January, but was disclosed this month as part of a discovery process in other litigation involving Natural American Spirit.

Not everyone is happy with the settlement. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free kids put out a statement that it doesn’t go nearly far enough. From the CTFK website:

“This FDA/Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company agreement is a gift to the tobacco industry, permitting R.J. Reynolds to continue the highly misleading, and very possibly legally fraudulent, marketing and labeling of American Spirit cigarettes,” said Robin Koval, CEO & President, Truth Initiative. “Our research shows that a majority of Natural American Spirit smokers incorrectly believe that their cigarettes are safer than other cigarettes. The truth is that they are just as dangerous as any other cigarette. This agreement does little to address those widespread and highly dangerous misperceptions. The only way to protect consumers is for the FDA to immediately go back to the drawing board to ensure that R.J. Reynolds and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company can no longer mislead consumers about the safety of their product.”

Earlier this month, RJ Reynolds reached a settlement agreement that it will stop doing that. I’ll be keeping my eye on Natural American Spirit ads to see if they do! Their false advertising that somehow a “natural” tobacco is somehow safer (and there are people out there who believe this malarkey hook, line and sinker) his has been bugging me for a couple of years.