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Greenwashing Smokers: Do You Approve of It?

Eco-friendly cigarette ads are not as harmless as they appear to be, say anti-tobacco activists. After running ads for its line of “eco-friendly” organic cigarettes, Reynolds American is now being accused of greenwashing consumers. Anti-tobacco activists claim that the tobacco company is using words like “organic” and “eco-friendly” to deceive consumers into buying cigarettes.

Activists Claim Eco-friendly

The ads are currently appearing in magazines such as Esquire, Elle, Lucky, and Marie Claire –  mostly women’s magazines. These ads continue to support activists’ claims that tobacco companies have a long history of enticing women and children to take up smoking.

And, by featuring ads with the words “eco-friendly” and “organic” all over the place, it is not unreasonable for some people to believe these cigarettes are not only healthier for them, but also less harmful to the environment.

The ads describe how American Spirit organic cigarettes are environment-friendly. Certain phrases are italicized or emphasized, such as “earth-friendly”, “organic”, “100% recycled”, and “lessen our carbon footprint.”

On one page of one of the ads, there is a huge seal in the upper right corner of the page, bearing the words “Eco-friendly.”

Activists claim these words paint an inaccurate picture in the minds of consumers. “It’s an egregious ad. It’s trying to greenwash a deadly and addictive product,” says Vince Willmore of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “When you hear a product is eco-friendly, you think it’s better for you.”

However, the ads do contain disclaimers stating “No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette” and “Organic tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette.”

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