Lawmakers giving tobacco industry makeover, East Texans explain

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Morgan Chesky - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The warnings came first, followed by bans on advertising. Now, lawmakers are looking to give the tobacco industry a makeover. Part of the tobacco act signed by President Obama goes into effect next week banning the terms "light", "low", and "mild" on cigarette labels and ads. But, will changing names change the industry impact?

A wall of cigarettes lets customers pick their preference. Now, new inventory makes choosing a challenge. Ask for Marlboro Lights and you will get

"They don't understand because it's the same cigarette [and] it just has a different word on it," said Tobacco Junction employee Sarah Petty.

They are different words lawmakers hope carry a different meaning. By no longer allowing the terms "light", "ultra-light", or "mild" on packages, the FDA hopes to stop an assumption mistaken by some.

"Well, I would think if it said 'light' it would be healthier," said non-smoker Brenda Marshall.

But others have no problem understanding.

"Nothing has really changed," said smoker Ben Carver. "[They] changed up the box design [and] changed up the naming system for it."

"The only change in the packaging is the wording because they've had to take the 'light' and 'ultra light' off of it," said Petty.

For most brands, the categories are easily replaced with colors. Pall Mall Ultra Lights and Lights now go by Orange and Menthol. Salem's packaging goes color coordinated.

They all used to be green, but now, pale green equals 'light' and silver equals 'ultra light'.

The FDA says health risks are equal on all cigarettes making the only thing names or colors signify is flavor.

"Some's a little stronger [and] some's a little milder," explained Petty. "[It] just depends on what you prefer."

"Whether they put 'light' or 'medium' everybody knows cigarettes aren't good for you and it's not gonna change the cigarette by labeling it one way or the other," said smoker Chris Cassity.

The ban on terms like "light", "medium", and "full" was signed by President Obama a year ago as part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. It goes into full effect June 22, however, shops are allowed to sell the rest of their inventory containing the labels.

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