Dr. Robert Wergin is angry that tobacco manufacturers have begun using the terms “additive free” and “natural” on their cigarette labels.

“These tobacco manufacturers are trying to convince the American public that their product is a healthier alternative to other cigarettes,” said Wergin, who is president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

Wergin commends the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for taking action last week against three companies, adding that his organization “couldn’t be happier” about the move.

"I'm sick of it"

“The FDA issued its warning letters just days after the AAFP and a host of other organizations sent a letter to the FDA, alerting Center for Tobacco Products Director Mitchell Zeller that Reynolds American, Inc. and its subsidiary Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., were in violation of the modified risk provisions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The ads for their cigarettes conveyed a clear message of reduced risk and reduced exposure to harmful substances.

“This is just the latest example of tobacco companies using deceitful marketing ploys to mislead the public. I’m sick of it. Let’s be perfectly clear: Cigarettes kill. There is no such thing as a safe cigarette. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking accounts for about one in five deaths annually in America.

Wergin said, “This isn’t the tobacco industry’s first lie, and it won’t be its last, but right now, I’d like to thank the FDA for taking action on this critical public health issue.”

About the AAFP

Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 120,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Approximately one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is nearly 214 million office visits each year — nearly 74 million more than the next largest medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.

Visit www.FamilyDoctor.org for more information.