Green Marketing greenwashing Uncategorized

Can Cigarettes Be Green? Ask Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company

According to a recent article in USA Today, anti-smoking activists are hot under the collar in response to cigarette marketing that makes “eco-friendly” claims. Evidently, ads for  Natural American Spirit cigarettes (made with organic tobacco) tout environmentally-friendly manufacturing practices. I went to Natural American Spirit’s website to check this out for myself. Indeed, the cigarette brand has claimed a green position. On its website it offers up “eco tips” and highlights its green practices such as purchasing electricity generated from sustainable sources, like wind power, for its facilities. This is an interesting (and most likely differentiating) brand position for a cigarette brand. According to their website, their “growing programs give a financial boost to small, independent farmers while encouraging sustainable growing practices and help us to reduce our footprint on the Earth.” The company claims to be both socially progressive and earth-friendly. Just when you thought you’d seen it all!

I’d love to hear what you think of this strategic decision to position a cigarette brand and company as earth-friendly. If you’d like to learn more about Natural American Spirit cigarettes or Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company (part of Reynolds American Inc.), go to www.sfntc.com.

Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer

3 comments on “Can Cigarettes Be Green? Ask Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company

  1. While the reasons for not smoking are obvious, I would say this company is differentiating itself by touting their green processes. Using wind-generated power, and generally being earth conscious is a benefit to their brand because it is an ethical business choice and appeals to consumers these days. It’s ironic that a company making something that is proven to be harmful to society and our environment (when consumed) has a green manufacturing/operations process.

  2. Charles Bingham

    I work for the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC, pronounced “search”), a non-profit health network that provides health care to 18 remote tribal communities scattered over a region about the size of Florida. Tobacco use is a big issue for Alaska Natives and American Indians in Alaska, and the number of Native users is about double the state average.

    The smoke screen produced by “natural” tobacco companies was so worrisome that our tobacco prevention program had me write an article for the September-October 2008 issue of our HealthBeat patient newsletter (http://www.searhc.org/publications/documents/healthbeat/2008_hb_sept.pdf, Page 3) debunking these misleading claims. A lot of people (including non-Natives) smoke these brands because they think they get a healthier cigarette, but it’s just not true. In fact, the levels of “free-base nicotine,” the type of nicotine thought to be the most addictive, are 13 times higher in an American Spirit cigarette than they are in a Camel, six times higher than in a Winston and four times higher than in a Marlboro.

    I find it confounding that a product can be called green when it produces air pollution through secondhand smoke and trash pollution through discarded cigarette butts (one of the biggest toxic waste problems in the country when you consider the scale of the number of discarded cigarette butts and the chemical additives trapped in them).

    • dandunlop

      Charles, thanks for your thoughtful comments. You hit the nail on the head. Well said!

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