Natural American Spirit has discovered how to gain market share; tout the organic, all-natural status of its product.
It must be healthier, right?
Not when it comes to cigarettes, but it has been very good strategy for the company to do what organic food and soap corporations have done so well – frame the discussion so that their process seems physically and ethically superior to “conventional.”
There was a time when critics who were worried about corporate denial of science and health facts would claim a technique was ‘right out of the Big Tobacco playbook', but that analogy seems anachronistic to modern sensibilities who grew up at a time when tobacco companies fund anti-smoking PSAs and alternatives. Instead, cigarettes makers are now using tactics ‘right out of the Big Organic playbook': Invoke a health halo, then charge a premium of 20 to 25 percent.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has sent warning letters to Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. and two others about using terms like “natural” to imply healthier. That the Food and Drug Administration finally seems a little irked by this leads to an obvious question: What took them so long? Santa Fe has been saying that since 1982. It took a new national advertising campaign – Sports Illustrated, TIME and Vanity Fair, among others are happy to take Big Tobacco money – for the FDA to do what they have been saying they would do since the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 gave them the authority.
We're on their side, so we don't want to be too mean, but why did it take six years?
In the Winston-Salem Journal, American Council on Science and Health Senior Director of Medicine and Public Health Dr. Gil Ross said, “Any reasonable person who happens to be a smoker or is contemplating becoming one would clearly infer that such claims indicate a ‘healthier’ or less-harmful cigarette, which is certainly not true.”