June 18, 2010 / 2:30 AM / 7 years ago

US FDA demands Philip Morris marketing documents

* FDA demands marketing strategy, ad concepts

* New law bans 'light' and 'mild' labels

By JoAnne Allen

WASHINGTON, June 17 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators demanded on Thursday that cigarette maker Philip Morris turn over all market research material on Marlboro Lights, citing concern over an advertisement for the brand.

In a letter to Philip Morris parent company Altria Group, Inc (MO.N), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it was concerned about advertisements, or "onserts," attached to packs of Marlboro Lights.

A U.S. ban on promoting cigarettes as "light," "mild" or "low" takes effect on Tuesday. The ban is a key provision of a new federal law that gives the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products.

"By stating that only the packaging is changing, but the cigarettes will stay the same, the onsert suggests that Marlboro in the gold pack will have the same characteristics as Marlboro Lights, including any mistaken attributes associated with the 'light' cigarettes," the FDA letter read.

Altria must submit by July 30 all materials related to the marketing or sale of Marlboro Lights, including themes, creative recommendations and dissemination strategies, the FDA said.

Altria spokesman Bill Phelps said, "We received the letter today and we're reviewing it and we will respond."

The anti-smoking group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said the FDA action would prevent Philip Morris from evading the ban.

"This will give the FDA the information it needs to take additional enforcement action if Philip Morris does not pull the onserts," the group said in a statement. (Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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