Brown Secures Agreement with American Spirit Cigarettes Maker over Alleged Misleading Marketing of Organic Tobacco Products

Monday, March 1, 2010
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

Los Angeles—Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that his office has secured an agreement with Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc., the manufacturer of American Spirit tobacco products, that requires the company to clearly disclose that its organic tobacco is “no safer or healthier” than other tobacco products.

Attorneys general from 32 other states and the District of Columbia signed onto today’s agreement.

“Stamping an organic label on tobacco products is ultimately a distinction without a difference—organic or not, cigarettes are bad for your health,” Brown said. “Today’s settlement with Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company ensures that all future advertisements make it clear that organic tobacco is no safer or healthier.”

Today’s agreement follows Brown’s contention that Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company may have misled consumers in advertising its “organic” or “100% organic” Natural American Spirit cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco and pouches, leading consumers to believe these products were less harmful than other tobacco products. There is currently no competent or reliable scientific evidence to support this conclusion.

Under the terms of the agreement, all advertisements will clearly and prominently feature the following warnings:

• For Natural American Spirit organic cigarettes: “Organic tobacco does NOT mean safer cigarettes.”
• For Natural American Spirit organic roll-your-own or pouch tobacco: “Organic tobacco does NOT mean safer tobacco.”

Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company has until April 1, 2010 to meet these requirements in the placement of future advertising. All tobacco retailers selling these products must be contacted and instructed to dispose of old advertisements that do not feature these disclosures once updated advertisements and point of sale materials are received.

Organic tobacco is certified under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. To receive organic certification, tobacco farmers have to follow a strict, labor-intensive growing regimen. Certified organic tobacco is grown without the use of pesticides and fertilizers prohibited under the program.

Thirty-two other attorneys general signed onto Brown’s agreement today from the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Additionally, the attorney general of the District of Columbia signed onto the agreement.

Brown’s agreement with Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc. is attached.

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