Packaging, Marketing Makeover for Natural American Spirit Cigarettes

Brand keeps ‘natural’ in name, updates other wording

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. will update its packaging for Natural American Spirit cigarettes after a revision of the terms that can legally be used to describe tobacco products.

Beginning this month, packaging and advertising for Natural American Spirit (NAS) cigarettes will no longer describe the product as “additive-free” or “natural.” Instead, new language will be used to make adult smokers aware that the brand’s premium, whole-leaf tobacco blends still contain just two ingredients: tobacco and water, said the Santa Fe, N.M.-based company.

The changes came about after legal wrangling and a formal agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the terms possibly being misleading, potentially making people think NAS products were safer than other cigarettes.

All 14 styles of NAS cigarettes, the company said, will continue to have the following qualities:

  • Tobacco blends that consist of just two ingredients: tobacco and water
  • Premium, whole-leaf tobacco that’s grown in a way the company says is environmentally responsible
  • Up to 25% more tobacco than other king-sized cigarettes

“We’re making some changes to NAS cigarette packs and ads, but that’s the only thing that’s changing,” said Kara Calderon, senior director of marketing for the NAS brand. “So to avoid any confusion in the marketplace, we’re working hard to make sure that retailers and adult-tobacco consumers understand that even though NAS cigarette packs will use new language to describe the product, the cigarettes inside are exactly the same.”

Under the agreement with the FDA, the name of the company, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., and the name of the brand, Natural American Spirit, will stay the same.

In addition to new packaging and advertising for NAS cigarettes no longer using the words “natural” or “additive-free” as of Oct. 1, all packaging for non-menthol styles of NAS cigarettes will use the phrase “Tobacco Ingredients: Tobacco & Water.” The brand’s two menthol styles will use a similar disclosure.

In the press release, Calderon said she agrees that NAS cigarettes are not safer than other traditional, combustible cigarettes. “In fact, for many years, all NAS cigarette packs and ads that contain an additive-free claim, have disclosed that ‘No additives in our tobacco does not mean a safer cigarette.’ ”

Going forward, she said the company will feature a revised disclosure that states: “Natural American Spirit cigarettes are not safer than other cigarettes.”

“We’re also producing new advertising and point-of-sale materials that are based on the theme ‘Real. Simple. Different.’ Those three words describe what the Natural American Spirit brand is all about,” Calderon said.

Products featuring the new packaging have already been shipped, Calderon said, and members of marketing arm Winston-Salem, N.C.-based RAI Trade Marketing Co.’s field marketing team will replace existing NAS point-of-sale (POS) materials with updated materials during their regular retail calls. In the meantime, wholesalers and retailers can continue to sell any NAS products they already have in stock, and they can continue to use the POS materials that are already in place, the company said.

Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc. is a subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C., which is an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of London-based British American Tobacco.

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