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For Release: June 22, 2010

Contact:  
Larry Weatherford
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601 

or 

Sjonna Paulson, APR, 
Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust
(405) 525-8738 or after hours (405) 596-9399


Health Officials AlertPublic to Latest Tobacco Industry Ploy
Color-coded packaging skirts law, falsely implies some cigarettes lighter and safer

State health officials are alerting consumers to a deceptive marketing technique the tobacco industry is using to evade the federal ban on package labels such as “light,” “low-tar” and “mild.” The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed into law in June 2009, bars the use of these terms in packaging or advertising because they imply that some cigarettes are less hazardous than others.

Starting on June 22 of this year, it will be illegal for manufacturers to produce for sale or distribution tobacco products labeled or advertised with the descriptors “light,” “low-tar,” “mild,” or similar descriptors. Cigarette makers have removed the labels, but some have replaced them with color schemes clearly intended to convey the same message.

“Don’t be fooled, cigarettes are deadly whatever their package color,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline.  “In this situation, no matter how it’s packaged, it is still a cigarette and the research clearly tells us how deadly this product can be for smokers and for those exposed to secondhand smoke.”

Congress adopted the legislation after finding many smokers mistakenly believe cigarettes marketed as “light,” “low-tar” or “mild” cause fewer health problems than other cigarettes, and those mistaken beliefs can reduce the motivation to quit smoking. Studies have demonstrated that there has been no reduction in health risk from such products, and they may actually increase the risk of tobacco use.

“Since they were first rolled out in the 1970’s, ‘light’ cigarettes have been nothing more than a tobacco industry ploy to keep smokers from quitting,” said Tracey Strader, executive director of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET). “Light cigarettes are just one example of the deceptive marketing tactics that resulted in 11 tobacco companies being convicted of criminal racketeering in a 2009 federal court ruling.”

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death, killing about 6,200 Oklahomans each year.

Tips on Quitting

• Set a date to quit and mark it on your calendar. Get rid of ashtrays, lighters and cigarettes.
• Visit your doctor for support and advice with your quit plan.
• Make a list of reasons why you want to quit.
• Ask family and friends to support you.
• Avoid triggers, including alcohol, caffeine and other smokers.
• Exercise to relieve stress and improve your mood. Try a brisk 30-minute walk at least four days a week.
• Consider using a safe nicotine alternative such as replacement patches, gum or lozenges, all of which can double your chance of quitting.

For free help with quitting, call the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8669).

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