A class-action lawsuit was filed against the manufacturers of American Spirit cigarettes for falsely claiming its products are addictive-free and healthier than those distributed by rival companies.
The Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. and its holding company, Reynolds American Inc., of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, are both under scrutiny at the moment, as the investigation looks to shade light on some suspicious practices.
The Food and Drug Administration is intent on doing its job, and that means it has the authority of regulating tobacco, cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco and basically any form of smoking in the United States.
According to the section 911 of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C), the FDA might find the makers of American Spirit guilty of deceiving the public into believing their cigarettes are less harmful than others.
Consequently, it is a clear violation of these guidelines to label cigarettes as “additive-free” or “natural,” unless there is scientific proof to support the claims. In an era where consumers are especially health-preoccupied and environmentally-conscious, such selling propositions could easily sway them.
There is a category of cigarettes that the FDA labels as “modified risk tobacco products” (MRTP), which means they are “sold or distributed for use to reduce harm or the risk of tobacco-related disease associated with commercially marketed tobacco products”. But there’s a process to undergo before tobacco manufacturers can use the label on their products.
In order to receive a MRTP qualification, firms need to submit an application with the FDA, joined by scientific evidence showing the cigarettes’ reduced damaging effect. If the FDA approves, the commercial items can then be advertised as lower risks related to health.
However, the MRTP label has yet to be plastered on any product, as the FDA has not given this permit to any product. Consequently, the American Spirit makers are now in violation of federal law for labeling their cigarettes as “addictive-free.”
Although this law has been in place for some time, only now has the FDA started looking into the practices of the Reynolds American Inc. – in spite of the company using misleading sales pitches ever since it was founded more than 3 decades ago.
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