American Lung Association Calls on FDA to Crack Down on Big Tobacco’s Color Coding Substitutions for Light Cigarettes

Prohibition of “Light” and “Low” One of Three Major Provisions from Tobacco Control Act to Take Effect on June 22

Sacramento, CA (June 18, 2010)

"Light," "low" and "mild" cigarettes will finally be snuffed out on June 22nd – decades after they were introduced by the tobacco companies to deceive the American public and sustain addiction to cigarettes by implying that these products were safer for smokers.  As required by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the tobacco industry will no longer be allowed to manufacture these products on this date – the one year anniversary of the day President Obama signed the law which gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) broad new powers to regulate the $89 billion tobacco industry. 

The American Lung Association is calling on the FDA to stop Big Tobacco's attempt to find a way around this new requirement. Tobacco companies are engaged in marketing campaigns to make consumers associate specific colors with the banned descriptors, as well as the false health claims linked to them.  This color-coding lets them perpetuate the false and misleading beliefs among consumers that certain brands are less harmful than other cigarettes.

"The tobacco industry continues to harm the health of millions of Americans with their deceptive marketing practices to circumvent the new regulations," said Jane Warner, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California.  "Nearly four million Californians still smoke, and smoking kills nearly 40,000 people every year. We want to make sure that the intent of the descriptor ban – stopping the companies from misleading consumers about the relative harm of tobacco products—is met.  We urge the FDA to take corrective action by ruling that this new wording and color coding should be ended immediately."

Also taking effect on June 22nd is the Youth Access and Advertising rule.  This rule will severely restrict the way the tobacco industry can advertise and sell cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, especially marketing efforts designed to appeal to children and teenagers.  The rule, which was first issued by the FDA in 1996, will finally go into effect after years of court and legislative battles. 

"This rule is an important step toward ending the predatory marketing campaigns by tobacco companies towards our children," said Warner. "Each year, more than 32,000 kids in California will start smoking. Preventing youth smoking saves lives since 90 percent of smokers began smoking by the age of 18."

The implementation of this rule means selling cigarette or smokeless tobacco products to minors will be a federal offense. There can be no vending machine sales or self-service displays of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco except in adult-only facilities and cigarettes can no longer be sold individually or in packs of fewer than 20.  The rules will also prohibit tobacco companies from selling branded products such as T-shirts and caps and from sponsoring sporting and other cultural events.

Also taking effect on June 22nd is a provision that requires larger, stronger warning labels on all smokeless tobacco packages and in all smokeless tobacco product advertisements.

The American Lung Association in California is ready to help smokers who want to quit with our programs that help tens of thousands of smokers take the big step of quitting each year. Freedom From Smoking® provides a personalized step-by-step quit plan and is offered online (www.ffsonline.org) or as a group clinic to help smokers work through the problems and process of quitting. The Lung HelpLine, 1-800-LUNG-USA, provides smoking cessation counseling and one-on-one support from registered nurses and respiratory therapists.