Contact: Jerie Jordan, ACS, 404-329-7688

Paul Billings, ALA, 202-785-3355


This ads asks, What the heck have you been smoking?

What the heck have they been smoking?

Well, probably not cigarettes, not tobacco. We know that tobacco company executives don't generally use their own products. They leave that for the young, the poor and the stupid, as R.J. Reynolds execs once told one of their Winston models.

They leave smoking to the addicted. And tobacco companies know as well as the health groups that most smokers want to quit, most smokers wish they had never started.

But if smokers are going to put off the agony of quitting for a while, they'd like to believe that what they're drawing into their lungs isn't quite so bad, not so terribly harmful as the really awful cigarettes.

The cigarette companies understand smokers' desperation only too well. They've systematically and steadfastly countered our messages about the health risks of tobacco by changing the product without lowering the risk. They came up with filters, with low tar cigarettes, low nicotine cigarettes, even low smoke brands.

And now a brand with no additives. Just what the doctor ordered -- or at least that's what R.J. Reynolds would like smokers to believe.

As if nicotine itself wouldn't addict you. As if inhaling known carcinogens wouldn't harm you when it's combined with the pure filter water touted in some of the ads in this series.

When this new Winston ad campaign was unleashed, we at the national offices of the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the American Heart Association got calls from people all around the country who were incensed at the brazenness of R.J. Reynolds. This company, currently the defendant in more than 500 different lawsuits over the damage caused by their products, has not been shy about insisting they're hawking the all-natural cigarettes -- they proclaim it from billboards, bus shelters, magazines, taxi tops.

The American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, and American Heart Association have taken our complaints to the Federal Trade Commission, the agency with jurisdiction over advertising. Last August, we asked that the FTC look into the health claims implied by this campaign. We think these ads were designed to fool smokers into believing that they won't be hurt so much by the new Winstons, and we know that's not true.

Tobacco companies have become artists at implying any health message they can devise without actually saying anything. Notice how the actual words get taller and bolder while the information is mostly imaginary.

Cigarettes are now the only product on the market where the manufacturer doesn't have to disclose to the consumer exactly what goes into their bodies. The truth is, nobody except the companies knows what's inside a cigarette. And clearly, they're not telling.

But that long-held secrecy may well be changing. In 1996, Massachusetts passed an ingredients disclosure law that has been upheld by the first court where the tobacco companies sued. The law goes into effect December 15. This year, Minnesota and Texas passed similar legislation, and a few other states introduced bills to this effect. We expect several more states to try cigarette ingredient disclosure laws during the 1998 legislative sessions.

Because people everywhere are outraged that cigarette companies don't have to tell anybody anything about their products right now. They're disgusted that companies like R.J. Reynolds can subvert the desire for good health into a campaign to sell death.

On behalf of the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association, we'd like to thank the Center for Science in the Public Interest for being our ally over the years. We'd especially like to thank them today for recognizing the outrageousness of this advertising campaign by R.J. Reynolds.

And even more, for understanding the outrageousness of a product that kills its user when taken as intended.

[ Hubbard Press Release ]