As many smokers are attempting to fulfill a New Year’s resolution to finally nip their cigarette habit in the bud, leading cigarette manufacturer R.J. Reynolds is launching its first campaign specifically aimed at encouraging smokers to switch to its Camel Snus brand of smokeless tobacco. Unlike many smokeless tobacco ads, which seem to suggest that consumers may wish to engage in dual use of smokeless tobacco with cigarettes in order to obtain a nicotine fix when or where smoking is forbidden, this “take the pleasure to switch” campaign marks the first attempt by a large U.S. tobacco company to convince smokers to substitute cigarettes with a smokeless alternative.
ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan welcomes the campaign as a much needed harm-reduction approach. “Reynolds has entered new territory. It’s very aggressive, and I think it is wonderful that they’re doing it.” Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids president Matt Myers, however, vehemently objects, claiming that the ads represent an “insidious marketing of tobacco products in ways that seek to discourage smokers from quitting and keep them hooked on nicotine.”
While kicking the smoking habit altogether is the best solution, says ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross, quitting indefinitely can be very difficult and “nothing in these ads discourages smokers from quitting.” In a commentary published in the Winston-Salem Journal in response to Mr. Myers’ comments, Dr. Ross points out the need for effective harm-reduction policies:
Reynolds makes a small, good step in the right direction by actually advising smokers to switch to smokeless rather than insinuate dual use with vague ads.
On a lighter note, be sure to check out this parody skewering the attitude of the big public health groups, such as Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, that demand abstinence from nicotine and attack the manufacture, sale and marketing of reduced risk tobacco products.