New names in response to federal regulations

Entering a common smoke shop, you will never ever see habitual blue packages with Pall Mall Lights written on them; but you don’t have to be worried, they were not phased out from products, but simply renamed to Pall Mall Blues. Another popular Reynolds American brand Salem Lights, earlier selling in green packages, are currently packed in white and pastel colors and the name merged to Salem Gold Box.

With the modifications in the names of the brands which awake associations with peace and safety, the leading cigarette makers headed by Reynolds have turned their heads to traditional strategies of color-use marketing, after the strictest restrictions in the history of US tobacco market were approved back in July.

The strategy is rather simple – such terms like lights and ultra lights that would be banned next year should be changed to colors in order to trigger associative thinking relating colors to the strength of cigarettes.

However, anti-smoking advocates criticize the use of colors and nicknames, arguing that cigarette makers are simply trying to avoid certain provisions of Tobacco Control Act approved by the Congress in summer and giving the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products, including the ban on marketing certain cigarettes as safer ones, which enters into effect on June 22, 2010.

RJ Reynolds, maker of Pall Mall, Camel, Salem and a dozen of other brands denies any accusations in attempting to infringe the regulation, and states that change in brands’ names is explained by the need to help their customers to locate their favorite cigarettes among other ones.

But public health experts say that similar changes have already been applied by cigarette industry in the countries with the most severe tobacco regulations. Studies fulfilled in Canada and UK, where the restrictions are a way more rigorous in comparison with the United States, demonstrated that smokers thought that names like “white”, “silver” were safer for health and less addictive than regular cigarettes.

The FDA spokesperson said that agency is aware about the color use and added that the labeling provision would be reviewed and colors could as well be banned when the restrictions comes into effect next summer.

RJ Reynolds spokesman David Howard said that such sudden and immediate change is conditioned by both federal restriction and a ruling currently pending in federal court.

Reynolds analysts surveyed smokers to compile their preferences of the possible designs for the top brands. The Camel-maker made use of surveys and polls to develop new designs for the brands. The new packs are of principal brands like Salem and Pall Mall already selling in the stores, while modified Camels and Winstons will arrive next month.

Philip Morris USA, Reynolds American principal rival and the largest US cigarette maker refused to reveal plans of possible color use, but said that they are planning to change packs in 2010.

Prof. Ben Brown, head of College of Business at the University of Delaware said that usage of colors in names of particular products have been the most efficient strategy in keeping customers with a particular brand, when there would be no lights and ultra lights on the shelves.

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