Apr. 19 2000
Washington, DC — RJR's announcement that it plans to market a "safer" Eclipse cigarette is taking advantage of the regulation gap created by the U. S. Supreme Court's decision to remove FDA authority to regulate tobacco. Without FDA oversight, there is no scientific corroboration of these claims by an independent government agency. RJR's claims of health benefits can only be viewed in the context of the company's long history of deceiving the public about the ingredients and health effects of its products. RJR is free to make unsubstantiated claims about the safety of Eclipse because it knows there is no scientific regulatory body to check them.
This is the same RJR which was ordered by the Federal Trade Commission last year to stop the totally misleading "No Bull" advertising campaign for Winston Cigarettes that suggested that Winston had no additives thereby making it somehow more healthy and less dangerous to smoke. The FTC forced RJR to add a package label making it clear that there are no health benefits from smoking Winston.
No one should believe any health-related claim from a company that has deceived the American public so often in the past. RJR's own new products director said in 1996 that the company could make no specific health claims for Eclipse Cigarettes. What has changed? In 1996, the FDA could have determined the validity of RJR's research. They can't now.
We urge Congress to respond to RJR's questionable announcement by passing meaningful FDA regulation of tobacco and forcing companies like RJR to tell the truth about their lethal products. We also urge FDA to assert its authority under current law over Eclipse because of the health claims RJR is making for this product.