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Alternative Cigarettes, Inc., et al.; Analysis to Aid Public Comment

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AGENCY:

Federal Trade Commission

ACTION:

Proposed Consent Agreement.

SUMMARY:

The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices or unfair methods of competition. The attached Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the draft complaint that accompanies the consent agreement and the terms of the consent order—embodied in the consent agreement—that would settle these allegations.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before May 30, 2000.

ADDRESSES:

Comments should be directed to: FTC/Office of the Secretary, Room 159, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20580.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Matthew Gold, Federal Trade Commission, Western Region, 901 Market St., Suite 570, San Francisco, CA. 94103. (415) 356-5276.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Pursuant to section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 38 Stat. 721, 15 U.S.C. 46 and section 2.34 of the Commission's Rules of Practice (16 CFR 2.34), notice is hereby given that the above-captioned consent agreement containing a consent order to cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to final approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record for a period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC Home Page (for April 27, 2000), on the World Wide Web, at “http://www.ftc.gov/​ftc/​formal.htm. A paper copy can be obtained from the FTC Public Reference Room, Room H-130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580, either in person or by calling (202) 326-3627.

Public comment is invited. Comments should be directed to: FTC/Office of the Secretary, Room 159, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20580. Two paper copies of each comment should be filed, and should be accompanied, if possible, by a 31/2 inch diskette containing an electronic copy of the comment. Such comments or views will be considered by the Commission and will be available for inspection and copying at its principal office in accordance with section 4.9(b)(6)(ii) of the Commission's Rules of Practice (16 CFR 4.9(b)(6)(ii)).

Analysis of Proposed Consent Order to Aid Public Comment

The Federal Trade Commission has accepted, subject to final approval, an agreement containing a consent order from Alternative Cigarettes, Inc., and its President, Joseph Pandolfino (hereinafter“Alternative Cigarettes”). The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for thirty (30) days for receipt of comments by interested persons. Comments received during this period will become part of the public record. After thirty (30) days, the Commission will again review the agreement and the comments received, and will decide whether it should withdraw from the agreement or make final the agreement's proposed order.

This matter involves alleged misleading representations for Alternative Cigarettes' Pure and Glory tobacco cigarettes, and the company's Herbal Gold and Magic herbal cigarettes. Alternative Cigarettes advertised that Pure and Glory cigarettes contains no additives. According to the FTC complaint, through these advertisements respondents represented that because Pure and Glory cigarettes contain no additives, smoking them is less hazardous to a smoker's health than smoking otherwise comparable cigarettes that contain additives. The complaint alleges that respondent did not have a reasonable basis for the representation at the time it was made. Among other reasons, according to the complaint, the smoke from Pure and Glory cigarettes, like the smoke from all cigarettes, contains numerous carcinogens and toxins, including tar and carbon monoxide.

The FTC complaint further alleges that Alternative Cigarettes represented that smoking Herbal Gold and Magic herbal cigarettes does not pose the health risks associated with smoking tobacco cigarettes. According to the complaint, this claim is false, as Herbal Gold and Magic cigarette smoke, like the smoke from tobacco cigarettes, contains numerous carcinogens and toxins, including tar and carbon monoxide.

The proposed consent order contains provisions designed to prevent Alternative Cigarettes from engaging in similar acts and practices in the future. Part I of the order requires Alternative Cigarettes to include the following disclosure, clearly and prominently, in certain advertising for its tobacco cigarettes: “No additives in our tobacco Start Printed Page 26209does NOT mean a safer cigarette.” (The order requires a similar disclosure in advertising for other tobacco products Alternative Cigarettes advertises as having no additives.) The disclosure must be included in all tobacco advertising that represents (through such phrases as “no additives” or “100% tobacco”) that the product has no additives. Part I exempts Alternative Cigarettes from the disclosure requirement: (1) For cigarette advertisements not required to bear the Surgeon General's health warning; and (2) if Alternative Cigarettes possesses scientific evidence demonstrating that its “no additives” cigarette poses materially lower health risks than other cigarettes of the same type. In general, the disclosure required by Part I must be in the same type size and style as the Surgeon General's warning and must appear within a rectangular box that is no less than 40% of the size of the box containing the Surgeon General's warning.

Part II of the order requires Alternative Cigarettes to include the following disclosure, clearly and prominently, in advertising and on packaging for herbal cigarettes: “Herbal cigarettes are dangerous to your health. They produce tar and carbon monoxide.” (The order requires a similar disclosure for other herbal smoking products.) The disclosure must be included in all advertising and on packaging for herbal smoking products that represent (through such phrases as “no tobacco,” “tobacco-free,” or “herbal”) that the product has no tobacco. Part II also contains an exemption from the disclosure requirement if Alternative Cigarettes possesses scientific evidence demonstrating that such herbal smoking products do not pose any material health risks. In general, the disclosure required by Part II must be in the same type size and style as the Surgeon General's warning and for advertisements must appear within a rectangular box that is the same size as the box containing the Surgeon General's warning.

Part III of the order requires Alternative Cigarettes to possess competent and reliable scientific evidence prior to: (1) Claiming that any herbal smoking product does not present the health risks associated with smoking tobacco cigarettes; of (2) making any claim about the health risks associated with the use of any herbal smoking product.

Part IV requires Alternative Cigarettes to send a letter to its purchasers for resale notifying them that they should discontinue the use of certain existing Alternative Cigarettes advertisements and promotional materials and that Alternative Cigarettes is required to stop doing business with purchasers for resale that do not comply with this request.

Parts V-VIII of the order contain requirements that Alternative Cigarettes keep copies of relevant advertisements and materials substantiating claims made in the advertisements; provide copies of the order to certain of its current and future personnel; notify the Commission of changes in the composition or formula of its tobacco products or herbal smoking products that may affect compliance with the order; and notify the Commission of any changes in the corporate structure that might affect compliance with the order. Part IX requires that the individual respondent notify the Commission of changes in his employment status for a period of ten years. Part X requires Alternative Cigarettes to file one or more reports detailing compliance with the order. Part XI provides that the order will terminate after twenty (20) years under certain circumstances.

The purpose of this analysis is to facilitate public comment on the proposed order, and it is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the agreement and proposed order or to modify in any way their terms.

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By Direction of the Commission.

Donald S. Clark,

Secretary.

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[FR Doc. 00-11312 Filed 5-4-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6750-01-M