Additive Free Cigarettes: Winstons and American Spirit

by Jeff Sovern

Those who use our casebook may recall the note about R.J. Reynolds advertising that its Winston cigarettes don't have additives. In the new edition, it's at pages 92-93. The casebook reports that Winston's sales increased by 9% as a a result of the ads, and that the FTC brought a case against Reynolds which ultimately settled with Reynolds agreeing to include in its Winston ads for a year the statement, "No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette."  When we reached that note in class today, a student observed that American Spirit cigarettes uses similar advertising about the absence of additives. After class, I did a search for American Spirit and found that its ads do say things like "100% additive free," and that they also include the agreed-upon disclosure.  Interestingly, American Spirit is also a Reynolds cigarette. You can see one such ad here.  The ad's focus seems to be less on safety and more on taste. Not everybody is happy about the American Spirit ads, as you can tell from the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids statement Reynolds American Deceives Consumers by Marketing American Spirit Cigarettes As "Eco Friendly".  Reynolds doesn't have to tout American Spirit as additive-free so the fact that they do so suggests they believe that the claim helps market the cigarettes even with the FTC-Reynolds disclaimer. So does that mean Reynolds believes the disclaimer is ineffective?  I wonder if they have done tests on consumers to see what impact it has.  Or is it just that they're not trying to sell the cigarette as less dangerous but as better-tasting (I'm skeptical about that)?  Anyway, the ads might merit mention in classes that spend time on that note.


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