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Reynolds tries Eclipse

Published on .

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. is going to market its new low-smoke cigarette, Eclipse, next week without making any health claims, hoping to avoid a long legal battle. How successful RJR will be could depend on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, which has been seeking legislation to gain control over tobacco marketing. After the Reynolds announcement Tuesday, FDA declined comment.

There has been speculation that FDA would follow the suggestion of some tobacco critics and try to prevent Eclipse from being sold until RJR can show the brand is safer than opther cigarettes. Although Reynolds primarily touts the lack of second-hand smoke in the cigarette, its press release says Eclipse "is also low in `tar' and nicotine, with a smooth, rich tobacco taste."

Like RJR's unsuccessful Premier cigarette of a few years ago, Eclipse heats the tobacco rather than burning it, and doesn't produce an ash. The heated tobacco releases glycerine, producing the tobacco smoke. RJR compares the process to that produced by pouring hot water through coffee grounds. Eclipse will be test marketed in Chattanooga, Tenn., and sell for a 10 cents per pack premium. Advertising from Mezzina/Brown, New York, will break this weekend.

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