If you’re a smoker looking for a “healthier” cigarette you may have turned to American Spirits in recent years. They’re marketed as “natural” and “additive-free,” leading many people to believe that they’re less harmful. This, of course, is bullshit. And now the FDA wants to finally crack down on them.

For the first time ever, the FDA has issued warning letters to companies that have been using terms like “natural” in their effort to give consumers the impression that those cigarettes pose fewer health risks than the average smoke.

The companies targeted by the FDA include the makers of brands like Winston, American Spirit, and Nat Sherman. All three brands used terms like “additive-free” and “natural,” with American Spirit using both.

“The FDA’s job is to ensure tobacco products are not marketed in a way that leads consumers to believe cigarettes with descriptors like ‘additive-free’ and ‘natural’ pose fewer health risks than other cigarettes, unless the claims have been scientifically supported,” Mitch Zeller director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products said in a press release.

Amazingly, tobacco products weren’t even regulated by the FDA until 2009. This attempt to rid cigarettes of “natural” descriptions is in line with the FDA’s successful 2010 campaign to ban use of the terms “light” and “mild.”

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Cigarette companies are allowed to apply for a permit that would allow them to describe their cigarettes as a “modified risk tobacco product.” But there’s no evidence that brands like American Spirit or other “natural” cigarettes are any healthier. So don’t hold your breath.

[FDA]

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

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