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Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc.; 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:

Michael Ostheimer, FTC/S-4002, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20580. (202) 326-2699.

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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, D.C. 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 Rule 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 Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc. (“Santa Fe”).

The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for thirty (30) days for receipt for 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.Start Printed Page 26212

This matter involves an alleged misleading representation for Natural American Spirit cigarettes, which Santa Fe has advertised as containing no additives. According to the FTC complaint, through these advertisements, Santa Fe represented that because Natural American Spirit 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 Santa Fe 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 Natural American Spirit cigarettes, like the smoke from all cigarettes, contains numerous carcinogens and toxins, including tar and carbon monoxide.[1]

The proposed consent order contains provisions designed to prevent Santa Fe engaging in similar acts and practices in the future.

Part I of the order requires Santa Fe to include the following disclosure, clearly and prominently, in certain advertising for its tobacco cigarettes: “No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette.” (The order requires a similar disclosure in advertising for other tobacco products Santa Fe 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. This Part exempts Santa Fe from the disclosure requirement: (1) For cigarette advertisements not required to bear the Surgeon General's health warning; and (2) if Santa Fe 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 Santa Fe 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. This Part also contains an exemption from the disclosure requirement if Santa Fe 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 requires Santa Fe to send a letter to its purchasers for resale notifying them that they should discontinue the use of certain existing Natural American Spirit cigarette advertisements and promotional materials and that Santa Fe is required to stop doing business with purchasers for resale that do not comply with this request.

Parts IV-VIII of the order require Santa Fe to keep copies of relevant advertisements and materials substantiating claims made in the advertisements; to provide copies of the order to certain of its personnel; to notify the Commission of changes in the composition or formula of Natural American Spirit cigarettes that may affect the order; to notify the Commission of changes in corporate structure; and to file compliance reports with the Commission. Part IX 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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Footnotes

1.  In late 1997, Santa Fe voluntarily did begin placing the statement, “To our knowledge there is no research indicating cigarettes containing additive-free tobacco are safer than cigarettes with tobacco containing additives” in certain ads for Natural American Spirit tobacco cigarettes. Since early 1998, Santa Fe has also included the statement “We make no representation expressed or implied that these cigarettes are any less hazardous than any other cigarettes” on the packaging of Natural American Spirit cigarettes.

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[FR Doc. 00-11313 Filed 5-4-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6750-01-M