NEWS21 June 2010

FDA orders tobacco giant to hand over market research

Government North America

US— The Food and Drug Administration has ordered tobacco firm Philip Morris to hand over all market research relating to the rebranding of its Marlboro Lights cigarettes as ‘Marlboro Gold’.

The firm advertised the name change by adding ‘onserts’ to packets of Marlboro Lights telling customers that “Your Marlboro Lights pack is changing, but your cigarette stays the same”, ahead of changes in US law that prohibit the use of the words ‘light’, ‘mild’ or ‘low’ in tobacco products.

However, the FDA felt there was a danger that customers might think they were still smoking a lighter, and therefore less dangerous, brand once the name change came into effect and decided to look into what consumers make of the change.

In a letter to Philip Morris the FDA demanded “all documents referring to or relating to marketing research, regardless of whether qualitative, empirical, or otherwise” that contain consumers’ perceptions, beliefs, concerns, thoughts and impressions about the Marlboro Lights brand.

The FDA said it is “concerned that the statements included in the onserts attached to the individual packs of Marlboro Lights may perpetuate the mistaken beliefs associated with ‘light’ cigarettes when marketed as Marlboro in the gold pack”.

“By stating that only the packaging is changing, but the cigarettes will stay the same, the onsert suggests that Marlboro in the gold pack will have the same characteristics as Marlboro Lights, including any mistaken attributes associated with the ‘light’ cigarettes,” the FDA said.

Philip Morris has been given a deadline of the end of July to submit its research.


1 Comment

13 years ago

The FDA is a worthless organization. Instead of wasting time and taypayer money, why don't they try following federal guidelines and tell people about the health benefits of vitamins and supplements? But no, they break those laws and waste time with this. Smoking is bad for you but its a a smokers choice, not the FDA or government. Give me a break.

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