To the editor:
Tobacco companies have manipulated consumers through a variety of marketing strategies, and they continue to do so today.
In 2009, the U.S. Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate the marketing and packaging of tobacco products. You may notice that the words "light," "mild" and "low tar" no longer appear on tobacco packaging. For years, these words misled smokers into thinking that these products were safer than "regular" cigarettes; however, they were not. This restriction in package labeling, which became effective last June, is a result of FDA oversight.
How did the tobacco industry respond? They now use nonverbal cues, such as packaging colors or different terms such as "gold" and "silver," to send messages to consumers. For example, R.J. Reynolds packages Salem cigarettes in different shades of green. The "full flavor" box is the darkest color green; lighter shades are used for their previously marketed "light, mild and low tar" brands. Without realizing it, consumers may choose products based on the assumption that the cigarettes in this particular redesigned pack are the healthier choice.
Please do not be fooled by these tactics. No tobacco product is safe. The tobacco industry is big business and, as a result, is pro-profit, not pro-health.
Your well-being is in your hands. If you are a smoker and are interested in stopping, speak to your doctor and call the New York State Quitline (1-866-NY-Quits, 1-866-697-8487). The Quitline is a free service to New York state residents. Quitline coaches offer tips to stop smoking and a two-week supply of free patches to eligible callers.
North Country Healthy Heart Network Inc.