(CN) – The maker of American Spirit cigarettes agreed to disclose that its organic tobacco products are no safer or healthier than other tobacco products under a new settlement agreement with California Attorney General Edmund Brown.
Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. settled claims with Brown and the attorneys general of 32 other states and the District of Columbia by agreeing to add printed disclosures to its tobacco products.
Brown accused the tobacco company of pushing the phrases “organic” and “100% organic” on the labels and ads for its Natural American Spirit cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco products to make consumers think the products were safer than other tobacco products.
“There is currently no competent or reliable scientific evidence to support this conclusion,” the California Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.
Santa Fe argued that its advertising is not misleading, because its products are made exclusively with tobacco carrying the certified organic label from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, meaning it’s grown without pesticides and fertilizers.
“Stamping an organic label on tobacco products is ultimately a distinction without a difference — organic or not, cigarettes are bad for your health,” Brown said.
Under the agreement, Santa Fe must print the warnings “Organic tobacco does NOT mean safer cigarettes” on its cigarette packages and “Organic tobacco does NOT mean safer tobacco” on its roll-your-own and pouch tobacco products.
The tobacco company has 30 days to make the ad changes. Tobacco retailers will be told to take down the old advertisements.