Marlboro Lights to go up in smoke?

WASHINGTON, Aug 23, 2006 (AFP) – They are the world’s best-selling cigarettes, a fashion prop for celebrities, an icon of marketing and the preferred smoke of millions. But if a federal judge has her way, Marlboro Lights will soon be no more in the United States.

Already banned in the European Union and Brazil, so-called descriptor terms on cigarette packets such as “lights”, “low tar” and “mild” will be outlawed from next January under a recent US ruling.

If implemented, the ruling by Washington district judge Gladys Kessler will force tobacco giants such as Philip Morris USA to switch to less loaded descriptions for their brands.

Richard Pollay, professor of marketing at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and a historian of tobacco advertising, said the impact should be limited.

“They will quickly find other language toward the same ends, for example ‘soft’, ‘smooth’, ‘gentle’, ‘kind’, etc.,” he said.

“It is important to the industry to give smokers some reassurance — however false — that the product and brands are risk controlled, even if not totally risk free.”

But the National Association of Convenience Stores, whose members