Two Cigarette Cos. to Change Ads
WASHINGTON (AP) - Two companies that make unconventional cigarettes - one marketing an all-natural brand and the other selling an herbal blend - would stop advertising their products as safe alternatives to regular cigarettes under settlements proposed Fr
The Federal Trade Commission lodged separate complaints against Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Inc. of Santa Fe, N.M., and Alternative Cigarettes Inc. of Buffalo, N.Y., alleging that their advertisements are deceptive because they imply that their products are safer to smoke than other cigarettes.
``These cigarettes are marketed with a 'natural' aura, but they're neither healthy nor safe,'' said Jodie Bernstein, director of the FTC's bureau of consumer protection. ``The fact is, there's no such thing as a safe smoke.''
From now on, when the companies make a ``no additives'' claim, they also must print on the package, ``No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette.''
Both companies also agreed to disclose on packages of herbal cigarettes that ``Herbal cigarettes are dangerous to your health. They produce tar and carbon monoxide.''
The settlements don't constitute an admission by the companies that any laws were broken. An attorney for Santa Fe did not return a telephone message left at his Washington office seeking comment. A spokesman for Alternative did not return a telephone message left with a receptionist at the company's New York office.
Santa Fe markets ``Natural American Spirit'' tobacco cigarettes and tobacco-free herbal cigarettes. The government alleged that the company tried to portray their cigarettes as safer with the claim that ``Native Americans smoked all-natural tobacco without the ills that are associated with smoking today.''
Alternative Cigarettes sells ``Pure'' and ``Gold'' tobacco cigarettes, as well as ``Herbal Gold'' and ``Magic'' herbal cigarettes. The FTC said that even the herbal cigarettes contain carcinogens and toxins, including tar and carbon monoxide.
Under the settlements, the companies also would be required to notify distributors and retailers that they should stop using existing ads and any promotional materials that make the disputed claims.
The settlements will be subject to public comment until May 30, when the commission will decide whether to make the decisions final. The settlements don't carry a fine but any future violations could carry a civil penalty of $11,000 for each breach.