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Press Release

Press Release # 023-10
Monday, June 14, 2010

MEDIA CONTACT: (212) 788-5290
Erin Brady/Celina De leon:

Health Department Launches New TV Spot to Alert the Public to Tobacco Industry’s Color Coding of Cigarette Packs

Campaign warns viewers that all cigarettes are hazardous, despite packaging that implies some are lighter and safer

June 14, 2010 – The Health Department today launched a new educational campaign to alert consumers to a deceptive marketing technique the tobacco industry is using to evade the federal ban on package labels such as “light,” “low-tar” and “mild.”

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed into law in June 2009, bars the use of such terms in packaging or advertising because they falsely imply that that some cigarettes are less hazardous than others. Cigarette makers have removed those labels, but some have replaced them with color schemes clearly intended to convey the same message. Under the new color scheme, regular cigarettes will come in red packages, light cigarettes in gold, mild in blue, ultra lights in silver, and menthols in green.

The new Health Department spots – airing today through June 30 – advise viewers that cigarettes are deadly whatever their package color. “Don’t be fooled,” a narrator says as brightly colored packages fill the screen. “All cigarettes contain the same poisons that make you sick and kill you. The new ads can be viewed at

“Cigarettes kill some 7,500 New Yorkers every year, and thousands more suffer smoking-related strokes, heart attacks, lung diseases and cancers,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “Studies have shown that smokers perceive light and ultra-light cigarettes to be safer than others, but rigorous testing has proven that all cigarettes are hazardous to your health and can lead to debilitating illnesses.”

If New Yorkers see packaging with words like “light,” “low tar,” or “mild,” they can call 877-CTP-1373 to report a violation. Reports, including photos, can also be mailed to: FDA Center for Tobacco Products, 9200 Corporate Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20850-3229.

Tips on Quitting
  • Set a date to quit and mark it on your calendar. Get rid of ashtrays, lighters and cigarettes.
  • Visit your doctor for support and advice with your quit plan.
  • Make a list of reasons why you want to quit.
  • Make a list of family and friends who will support you.
  • Avoid triggers, including alcohol, caffeine and other smokers.
  • Exercise to relieve stress and improve your mood. Try a brisk 30-minute walk at least four days a week.
  • Consider using a safe nicotine alternative such as replacement patches, gum or lozenges, all of which can double your chance of quitting.

More information on quitting smoking is available at