The Corner

Truth in Advertising?

Not, it seems, if you are a cancer charity. An advertising campaign is being launched in the UK which tells smokers not to be deceived by the claims of makers of low tar or mild cigarettes. The Daily Telegraph reports that the “Death Repackaged” campaign uses a great white shark, a crocodile and a striking snake to drive home the message that “a nice name doesn’t make something less deadly”. The campaign is being run by Cancer Research UK and is the charity’s first involvement in anti-smoking advertising. The project is in collaboration with the Department of Health, which is paying for the £2.5 million initiative.

The problem is that although no cigarettes are safe, some are safer than others. Writing for UPI last year, John Bloom explained:

“… the government continued to treat all cigarettes alike, and to say that no cigarette was safer than another. In fact, if the FTC thinks a cigarette ad is even implying that it’s safer than other cigarettes, that company will face a formal complaint and possible sanctions…Look at the ludicrous results. If you take the top ten brands in America, the three at the top of the list in terms of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide are Newport, Camel and Salem. Are we to think of these as dangerous cigarettes? According to the government, not really. They are neither more nor less dangerous than the brands that rank at the bottom of the toxic list: Virginia Slims, Doral, GPC, and SOME types of Marlboros.

Shouldn’t it be stated somewhere on the product that these are less toxic? Is it out of the question to make the rankings clear enough so that a normal uneducated person can form the conclusion: “A Virginia Slim is much safer than a Camel.”

But then we have the safest cigarette ever manufactured: the Carlton. At 1 milligram tar and 0.1 milligram nicotine, you would think its designers would be acclaimed as some of the greatest innovators since the guy who figured out how to decaffeinate coffee. Think again. They’re required to put the following disclaimer in all their ads: “It is not our intention to suggest that a 1 mg ‘tar’ cigarette is any safer than other cigarettes.”

Of COURSE it’s safer! Why would you spend the money to process it down to that level unless it was a cigarette designed to alleviate health concerns?”

Intriguing. Perhaps the tobacco warriors would like to explain why this is wrong.

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