By Ilana R. Morady

Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., a subsidiary of R.J. Reynolds, has been advertising its Natural American Spirit cigarettes as earth friendly, additive-free, and organically grown. Consumer groups have been less than pleased with the company’s “green” marketing. While the tobacco used to make the cigarettes may be grown in an ecologically responsible manner, the “green” claims may nonetheless be misleading. First, cigarettes create a lot of litter. Second, cigarettes, whether grown in an “eco-friendly” way or not, are still harmful to health.

The Federal Trade Commission has responded to similar complaints in the past. In 2000, the company advertised its cigarettes as free of additives. Through a negotiated settlement with the FTC, the company was required to include a statement on its cigarette packages stating that no additives does not mean a safer cigarette. The company also currently notes on its website that organic tobacco does not mean a safer cigarette.