The tobacco industry has to remove words like “light” on its cigarette packaging come June, but what they plan to do instead—use colors—has health advocates just as piqued. “They’re circumventing the law,” a professor tells the New York Times of moves like Philip Morris’ plan to change Marlboro Lights to Marlboro Gold. Just like “light” monikers, color-coding implies some types are safer than others, he says, and will “perpetuate one of the biggest public health myths into the next century.”
Nonsense, says an Altria spokesman. “Colors are really used to identify and differentiate different brand packs,” not “communicate whether one product is less harmful or more harmful than another.” Studies have proven consumers think “light” cigarettes are safer, easier to quit, and are popular with teens. The FDA has authority to ban words other than “light,” “low,” and “mild” should it deem it necessary, and has announced it might move against “silver,” “smooth,” “natural,” and the like.