The negative health effects of habitual cigarette smoking is fairly well-known in America. Tobacco manufacturers have tried to combat this by labeling their products with health-friendly buzz words, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially called them out. Specifically, three companies have received warning letters from the FDA regarding false advertisements that claim their tobacco products were “additive-free” and “natural.”

“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, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said in a press release. “This action is a milestone and a reminder of how we use the tools of science-based regulation to protect the U.S. public from the harmful effects of tobacco use.” The warning serves as a precedent for the FDA.

Since the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, the agency has not pursued regulatory action on a tobacco company marketing false and misleading labels. Winston cigarettes (manufactured by ITG Brands LLC) and Natural American Spirit cigarettes (manufactured by Sante Fe Natural Tobacco Company Inc.) both have claimed their products were “natural” and “additive-free,” while Nat Sherman cigarettes (manufactured by Sherman’s 1400 Broadway N.Y.C. Ltd), claimed their cigarettes were “natural.”

Each company was given 15 working days to explain how they plan to correct these falsehoods. They’ll have to remedy the violation and become compliant with the law before the agency initiates action toward civil money penalties, criminal prosecution, seizure, or a court ordering and combination of legal retribution, the FDA said.

The warning letter was sent days after the FDA received a letter from anti-tobacco organizations urging the governmental agency to enforce regulations against false marketing claims. The petition was signed by 29 groups, including the American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The false advertisements were printed in magazines such as Sports Illustrated and Vanity Fair, which are read by millions of people each month.

"The potential for irreparable damage to public health from the marketing of tobacco products with modified risk claims is well illustrated by the industry's years of deceptive advertising of 'light' and 'low-tar' cigarettes," the letter stated, as cited by the Associated Press.

Even if the cigarettes were “natural” or “additive-free,” they still wouldn’t be safe to smoke, according to The American Cancer Society (ACS). The ACS said, “all cigarettes cause damage and any tobacco smoking is dangerous. All tobacco is addictive.”

Smokers buying into false advertisements for “light” cigarettes, that a light cigarette equaled a lower health risk, were soon proven wrong. Studies found the risk of smoking light or low-tar cigarettes still burdened the user with serious health effects, including increased risk of heart disease and an earlier death.

“No matter what they smell like, taste like, look like, or are labeled as, all cigarettes are bad for you,” the medically-reviewed ACS writes. “The bottom line is there’s no such thing as a safe smoke. ”

Companies that market “natural cigarettes” base their claims on the 100 percent cotton filters they use, along with excluding any additional chemicals or additives. Regardless, there are no safe commercial brand cigarettes being sold today, even if they’re hand-rolled at home. As far as the “additive-free” claims are concerned, the ACS also reminds users that all cigarette smoke contains many cancer-causing agents and toxins, including tar, carbon monoxide, and nicotine. The latter is an addictive substance found in all tobacco products regardless of misleading labels, “just like heroin and cocaine, and it keeps people coming back for more.”