MINNEAPOLIS, June 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Starting tomorrow (June 22), new regulations and FDA rules authorized by the Family Smoking and Prevention Act will further limit the tobacco industry's ability to deceive consumers with misleading marketing and labeling that imply "light," "mild" or "low-tar" cigarettes are safer, as well as other practices that make products more appealing to youth. The Act, which was overwhelmingly approved by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama one year ago, grants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products.
"It is not surprising that Marlboro Lights are the most popular brand in the nation. Decades of clever packaging, branding and other misinformation are intended to suggest that some tobacco products are not as harmful as others. The fact that they will no longer be available under that name is significant," said David Willoughby, CEO of ClearWay Minnesota(SM). "The anniversary of the law and new regulations offer a good reminder that tobacco use is still one of our most significant health concerns, costing Minnesota nearly $2 billion a year in health care costs. These changes are a step in the right direction."
On June 22, the following components of the Act will go into effect:
- Prohibit terms such as "light," "low" and "mild" in all advertising, labeling and marketing of existing cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. Evidence demonstrates that these terms can mislead consumers into believing that certain products are safer.
- Require larger, stronger warning labels on all smokeless tobacco products and in advertisements. Though youth smoking is generally decreasing, 15.6 percent of high school boys and 2.4 percent of high school girls use smokeless tobacco, according to the Minnesota Youth Tobacco and Asthma Survey.
- FDA rules also will ban branded product tie-ins, such as t-shirts, with cigarette and other tobacco purchases, and prohibit sales of cigarettes in packages of fewer than 20 cigarettes. Some retailers split packs, making cigarettes more affordable and accessible to youth.
In response, tobacco companies have announced plans to use color-coded packaging to replace the terms "light," "low" and "mild." Lighter colors will signify light cigarettes. For example, Marlboro Lights are now Marlboro Golds.
"With its latest color scheme, the tobacco industry is continuing to use sophisticated marketing to hide the dangers of their products," Willoughby said. "But make no mistake: All cigarettes (whether light or gold) are harmful and a significant health risk. On June 22, choose to quit instead of choosing a color. QUITPLAN Services and other resources can help."
This year's new regulations build on changes that occurred under the Act in 2009, including:
- Granting the FDA authority to issue tobacco product standards that promote public health, such as removing or reducing harmful ingredients.
- Requiring companies to disclose tobacco product contents, as well as changes in products and research about their health effects.
- Banning all artificial or natural characterizing flavors other than tobacco or menthol from all cigarettes and their component parts.
About ClearWay Minnesota(SM)
ClearWay Minnesota is an independent, non-profit organization that improves the health of Minnesotans by reducing the harm caused by tobacco. ClearWay Minnesota serves Minnesota through its grant-making program, QUITPLAN® stop-smoking services and statewide outreach activities. It is funded with 3 percent of the state's 1998 tobacco settlement. For more information on ClearWay Minnesota or QUITPLAN Services, call (952) 767-1400 or visit clearwaymn.org.
SOURCE ClearWay Minnesota