The terms “natural” and “additive-free” have been used to market Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company’s brand of cigarettes, American Spirit, for nearly three decades. These claims on the label are under scrutiny and being met with legal challenges, reports Santa Fe New Mexican.
A class-action lawsuit was filed this week by a Florida law firm against the Santa Fe-based company and its parent, Reynolds American Inc of Winston-Salem, N.C., claiming the advertising and packaging of the cigarettes are misleading, lulling smokers into a false sense that American Spirit cigarettes are healthier than other tobacco products.
The lawsuit cites a recent warning issued to the company by the Food and Drug Administration that their claims of “additive free” and “natural” violate federal law.
The company is already under a consent order issued by the Federal Trade Commission in 2000 that requires the company to include a disclosure in their advertising that, “No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette.”
In a letter dated August 27, the FDC asserted its authority under a 2009 law to regulate “modified risk tobacco products.” The agency has directed the tobacco company to submit plans for future “corrective actions.”
Early this week, Reynolds American announced they are selling their rights to the Natural American Spirit brand of cigarettes outside of the U.S. to Japan Tobacco Group for around $5 billion, reports The New York Times.
Reynolds American is the parent company of brands that include Pall Mall, Newport, and Camel. The company will retain rights to the so called all natural cigarettes within the United States and its territories, but will sell international rights and trademarks as part of the deal.
President and chief executive of Reynolds American, Susan M. Cameron, said the sale will allow the company to focus on increasing sales within the U.S. and “demonstrates our commitment to creating value for our shareholders.”
We believe this sale once again demonstrates our commitment to creating value for our shareholders.
Cigarette sales have been down in the U.S. due to the recent rise in popularity of electronic-cigarettes.