Cigarettes can no longer be 'light' or 'mild', but can still be color-coded

Packs of Marlboro Lights


Bill Radke: Today is the last day cigarette makers can market their products as light, mild, or low. That's because of new rules from the Food and Drug Administration. But Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson tells us now the tobacco companies are adjusting to the new rules with a tactic that has some anti-smoking forces fuming.

Jeremy Hobson: That pack of Marlboros might not have the word "light" on the box anymore, but it'll still be gold.

Paul Billings: Color is used in advertising to convey information.

Paul Billings with the American Lung Association says consumers will associate the colors with the packs they used to buy and they'll still think they're getting a safer cigarette.

Billings: The data show us that the public does believe that products that were marketed as light or low or mild were somehow safer or less harmful. We know that these products are not safer or less harmful.

David Howard: I think it's clear that adult tobacco consumers are certainly aware of the risks associated with the product, no matter what the packaging designation is.

David Howard is a spokesman for RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company. He says the colors will help consumers find the same flavor and filtration they're used to.

Howard: All the packs carry surgeon generals warnings as mandated. And in the coming years, those warnings are going to be one half of both the front and back of the packaging.

Still, the FDA has asked the tobacco company Altria for all of its market research related on consumer perceptions of color coding by July 30.

In New York, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.


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