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Public Health Groups Call on RJR to Reverse Plans to Expand Marketing of Eclipse and Pull the Product off the Market

January 04, 2001

Washington, DC — The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS on Wednesday called on R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to immediately stop test marketing its Eclipse cigarette and cease from making health claims about the product after RJR announced plans to expand its test marketing to about 1,700 retail outlets in the Dallas/Forth Worth area. Public health groups also renewed calls for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to order RJR to stop its misleading advertising.

'Many smokers try to quit for the New Year, but RJR seems to have another resolution in mind for Dallas/Fort Worth smokers – one that keeps the cigarette giant prosperous and its customers' health at risk,' said M. Cass Wheeler, CEO of the American Heart Association. 'Smoking Eclipse is no highway to health; it will keep you on the road to dying of heart disease and stroke.'

RJR began test marketing Eclipse in April through direct mail in Dallas/Forth Worth and nationwide over the Internet. The company touted Eclipse as 'a cigarette that responds to concerns about certain smoking-related illnesses, especially cancer.'

But a Massachusetts Department of Public Health study released in October refuted these claims, showing that Eclipse exposes smokers to as much or more of several cancer-causing chemicals compared to two 'ultralight' cigarette brands already on the market. The study also found that Eclipse produces significantly greater amounts of carbon monoxide, one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease, than the other two brands. Cardiovascular disease and cancer account for 43 percent and 36 percent respectively of the more than 400,000 tobacco-related deaths in the United States each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

'RJR's decision to expand the test marketing of Eclipse shows utter contempt for the public health,' said Matthew L. Myers, President of the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS. 'In spite of compelling evidence that calls into question RJR's claims that Eclipse is safer than other tobacco products, RJR is seeking to expand the number of people who are harmed by this product.'

Twenty-two public health organizations have sent letters to the FTC, which regulates advertising, and the FDA, which regulates health claims, to take action to block RJR's health claims related to Eclipse.

More information on the Massachusetts study on Eclipse is available on the Internet at: