Public Health Groups Urge FDA and FTC to Take Action Against R.J. Reynolds for Misleading Health Claims about Eclipse Cigarettes

Aug. 18 2000

Washington, DC — In letters to the U. S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission, The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS and its partner organizations call on both agencies to take strong actions against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJRTC) for making unsubstantiated and potentially lethal health claims for its Eclipse cigarettes.

The letter to Jane Henney, M.D., Commissioner of the FDA, points out that RJR makes various claims touting the health benefits derived from smoking Eclipse. "These claims have not been subject to proper scientific review," the letter states. " The FDA must respond to these spurious health claims or RJRTC's false and misleading statements will likely dupe smokers and non-smokers alike. We urge you to take action under the FDA's existing drug and/or device authority to assert jurisdiction over this product and halt these health claims immediately, so as to protect the public health." The letter cites an equally valid justification for FDA jurisdiction – namely, that Eclipse " is not a cigarette in any traditional sense and thus not exempt from FDA jurisdiction."

The letter to Robert Pitofsky, Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, calls for the FTC to take action against RJRTC for false and misleading advertising of Eclipse. "The advertisements falsely and misleadingly imply that the Eclipse product is safer than traditional tobacco products. However, RJRTC has not substantiated and cannot substantiate any claims that Eclipse presents less health risk or does not lead to increased use of tobacco products." The letter urges the FTC to force RJRTC to substantiate its bogus claims of health benefits or cease and desist from any further advertising of its Eclipse product.

The two letters are signed by 22 public health organizations, including the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS, the American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association, The American Lung Association and the American Medical Association.

Letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (87K .pdf)

Letter to the Federal Trade Commission (96K .pdf)

 

Media Contacts