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Don’t Be Misled By 'Eco Friendly' Cigarette Claims

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Most of my patients including the few remaining diehard smokers will tell you I consider smoking an unhealthy and filthy habit. So it was no surprise recently when a patient handed me an advertisement touting a so-called ‘green’ cigarette in an effort to prove otherwise. New magazine ads touting cigarettes with “additive-free” “organic” tobacco use the term “eco-friendly” is prompting smoking foes to cry foul.

Ads for Natural American Spirit cigarettes have appeared in magazines such as Elle, Mother Jones, Field & Stream and Esquire.

The cigarettes manufactured by Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company is owned by Reynolds American Inc.

The company says it’s not saying its cigarettes are safer but that its manufacturing is greener.

Reynolds says its facilities are wind-powered, its farmers use fewer chemicals and 70% of its sales staff, drive hybrid vehicles.

“We try to be good stewards of the environment,” says spokesman Seth Moskowitz. He adds a sister company helps fund Keep America Beautiful.

“The ads are egregious. They are attempting to ‘greenwash’ a deadly and addictive product,” says, Vince Willmore of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids adding research shows cigarettes are not only unhealthy but are also the No. 1 source of litter.

Like my patient, the average person believes “eco-friendly” is better for you. That’s why the new ads are dangerously misleading.

Reynolds has made similar advertising claims. In 2000 the tobacco company ran afoul of the Federal Trade Commission, after advertising its cigarettes are free of additives.

The FTC negotiated a settlement that required the company to include this statement: “No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette.”

In 2010 the company returned with ads marketing its “organic” tobacco. 33 state attorneys general demanded a disclaimer saying the cigarette was not safer as a result. For the record, tobacco smoke is a complex mixture of more than 4000 chemicals in the form of gases, particles or both. When you inhale cigarette smoke, dozens of harmful substances enter your lungs and spread through your body. They can reach your brain, heart and other organs within 10 seconds of the first puff:... (Do you think that's enough to qualify smoking as an unhealthyhabit....??)

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