Philip Morris Packages Warn ‘Light’ Isn’t Safer

Bloomberg News

NEW YORK -- Philip Morris Cos., the world’s largest tobacco company, is putting leaflets in its light, medium, mild and ultra-light cigarette packs saying the products aren’t safer than regular cigarettes.

The inserts will be in about 130 million packs, including Marlboro Lights, sold in the U.S., to better educate smokers and encourage finding a new method for determining tar ratings, the company said.

Packs with the leaflets started being sold in stores this month and may be available until early next year depending on sales, spokesman Brendan McCormick said.

“There is no such thing as a safe cigarette,” the leaflet reads, and the terms “light,” “ultra-light,” “medium” and “mild” are meant to describe taste.


Cigarette makers were pushed by legislators and anti-smoking groups to drop the labels after a National Cancer Institute report indicated smokers found the descriptions misleading. The European Union has banned the labels’ use.

“Philip Morris is supporting an ineffective alternative that would preserve the status quo,” Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said. The company should fix advertising that conveys they are less harmful, he said.

Philip Morris shares fell 27 cents to $37.83 on the New York Stock Exchange.

In March, Philip Morris was ordered to pay $150 million to the family of a smoker that claimed the company lied about the health risks associated with low-tar products. The award was reduced to $100 million in May and the decision is being appealed.