150513 Implications of the Federal Court Order banning the terms “light” and “mild”: What difference could it make?

Monday, November 5, 2007: 2:30 PM

Stacey J. Anderson, PhD , Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Pamela Ling, MD, MPH , Division of General Internal Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Stanton A. Glantz, PhD , Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Federal District Judge Gladys Kessler found that the major American tobacco companies violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, defrauding the public by deceptively marketing “light” cigarettes. Judge Kessler's ruling prohibits the defendant tobacco companies from implying health benefits through using misleading terms like “light,” “mild,” or “low-tar,” or through other indirect means. This ruling could be interpreted narrowly simply as prohibiting certain words, or it could be interpreted broadly to prohibit implying health benefits by any other means, including color, numbers, or images. It is important to include indirect communications, as tobacco companies easily circumvent narrow advertising bans, as has been seen in European advertising following the EU ban on the use of such terms and as evidenced in internal tobacco industry documents. A narrow interpretation would be inconsistent with the Court's comprehensive factual findings of fraudulent intent by the industry. With a broad interpretation of the Order, including existing brands, line extensions, and new tobacco products such as Potential Reduced Exposure Products that are marketed as “cigarettes,” Judge Kessler's Order could make a substantial contribution to protecting health.

Learning Objectives:
At the end of the session, the participant will be able to: 1) understand the content of the Federal Court Order issued after the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization case against the major U.S. tobacco companies as it pertains to the use of terms such as "light" and "mild" in cigarette marketing; 2) describe three ways in which a health benefit may be communicated in cigarette advertising without using targeted terms such as "light" and "mild"; 3) articulate elements of tobacco marketing policy that would protect the public from misleading cigarette advertising.

Keywords: Tobacco Policy, Marketing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.