Death-knell for ‘light’ cigarettes sounds as tobacco treaty negotiations accelerate in Geneva

Tuesday 27 November 2001

27 November 2001 – immediate


Death-knell for ‘light’ cigarettes sounds as tobacco treaty negotiations accelerate in Geneva


Geneva – Marlboro Lights may soon be a thing of the past -at least they wont be able to call them ‘light’.  Governments are set to agree a treaty that would place a global ban on misleading branding which includes words like light, ultra low and mild.     Today, the National Cancer Institute of the US releases conclusive evidence [1] showing that ‘light’ cigarettes are no less harmful than ‘full-flavour’cigarettes, and that smokers are taking false reassurance from the branding.


Clive Bates, Director of ASH said:


“So-called light cigarettes represent one of the most deadly consumer confidence tricks of all time.  Tobacco manufacturers knew for at least 20 years that these would offer smokers nothing but false reassurance, but went ahead and promoted them anyway.


“There must be thousands of smokers who were fooled into thinking light cigarettes were a reason not to quit. 


“It looks as though the new WHO tobacco treaty will create a global ban on these terms, which would be a major achievement.  It will probably mean a war with the tobacco industry over trademarks and intellectual property, but governments have to put life before brands.


Commenting on the conclusion of the latest round of negotiations of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Clive Bates said:


“The treaty has advanced further and faster than we expected and the final text is beginning to emerge from the fog of bracketed proposals we started with.


Support is gathering around a global ban on tobacco advertising,measures to tackle smuggling, bold clear warnings on every pack of cigarettes sold and a ban on branding misleading.


“With four million people dying each year from tobacco diseases and set to rise to ten million over the next couple of decades, governments are finally giving attention it deserves and getting serious about a global tobacco treaty.



[1] Risks Associated with Smoking Cigarettes with Low Machine-Measured Yields of Tar and Nicotine, National Cancer Institute (US)


Contact: Clive Bates, +44 77 6879 1237