VECTOR GROUP ADS ADMIT CIGARETTE CANCER DANGER

New Brand Alleges 'Reduced Carcinogens'; Critics Call Campaign 'Irresponsible'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Marketing efforts for reduced-toxin cigarettes are heating up as Vector Tobacco introduces Omni -- a smoke with supposedly fewer carcinogens -- the same day
Vector Tobacco text
OMNI
Reduced carcinogens. Premium taste.

WARNING:
Smoking is addictive and dangerous to your health. Reductions in carcinogens (PAHs, nitrosamines, and catechols) have NOT been proven to result in a safer cigarette. This product produces tar, carbon monoxide, and other harmful by-products."

British American Tobacco's Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. launches Advance with less toxins in the Indianapolis area.

National magazine and newspaper ads for Omni -- available in full-flavor, lights and ultra lights -- carry the tagline "Reduced carcinogens. Premium Taste." Trone Advertising, High Point, N.C., handles the account.

The tag for B&W's Advance is similar: "All of the taste ... Less of the toxins." Fitzmaurice, Lewis & Partners, Louisville, Ky., handles Advance marketing.

No 'safe cigarette'
Although Vector, like B&W, maintains there is no such thing as a safe cigarette and does not attach any health claims to Omni, it believes making such products available is a responsible move.

But anti-smoking advocates disagree.

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a

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statement that B&W and Vector "are acting irresponsibly and with disregard for public health by test-marketing new cigarette brands with unverified claims implying that they are safer than other cigarettes."

Health risks
The statement went on to say that "while making statements that will lead consumers to believe that these new products are safer, both Brown & Williamson and Vector admit that they have no evidence that these products actually reduce health risks for smokers."

"The company feels it is a logical step to offer consumers something that's potentially less hazardous," said a Vector spokeswoman, who added that Omni does not have any direct competition, even from B&W's Advance.

"They're different products," she said. "We think it's the first regular cigarette that tastes, smokes and burns like traditional cigarettes."

The Vector Group Ltd., the parent of Vector Tobacco, also owns the Liggett Group Inc., which is currently a defendant in more than 450 individual, class action, government agency and other third-party lawsuits involving tobacco-related health issues.

Vector claims Omni is made from regular tobacco that is treated with a "special catalytic process" that purportedly reduces levels of known carcinogens.

Vector plans to launch Omni Free -- an apparently nicotine-free smoke -- in the first quarter of next year.

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