Vector's Data about Omni Cigarettes is Misleading and Underscores Need for FDA Regulation of Tobacco

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Dec. 11 2001

Washington, DC — Vector Tobacco Ltd. today released data on its new Omni cigarettes that will mislead consumers into believing that Omni has been proven to be safer when there is no evidence to support such a conclusion. This is a marketing scheme disguised as sound science. Tobacco companies should be encouraged to reduce known carcinogens and other toxins in their products, but it is irresponsible for them to make statements implying that any tobacco product is safer until an independent government agency has the authority to verify these claims. Vector's claims underscore the urgent need for Congress to grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration full and effective authority over the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products, including health claims made about them.

Vector claims that its research shows that Omni produces lower levels of many carcinogens and others toxins to which smokers are exposed. However, this research measures only a few of the more than 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke that are harmful to humans; it is based on how Omni cigarettes are smoked by machines, not human beings; and it provides no assurance that smoking Omni will actually reduce smoking-caused disease and death.

As a recent National Cancer Institute study on low-tar cigarettes showed, the tobacco industry has a long history of manufacturing cigarettes purposely designed to appear less toxic in machine tests, while actually posing the same level of risk to smokers. History will repeat itself, and the toll of tobacco will not be reduced, unless Congress grants the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products and protect the public health.

 

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