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A new brand of Philip Morris cigarettes called Parliament Super Slims should be barred from sale in Israel because the name gives the wrong impression that smoking them promotes weight loss and that their deadly effects are less harmful because the cigarettes are "slimmer," insists Prof. Eliezer Robinson, chairman of the Israel Cancer Association (ICA).
Robinson, who is also outgoing president of the International Union of Cancer Associations, made the request on Monday to Yitzhak Kimhi, the consumer protection official in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment. The senior oncologist based his argument on a new law passed at the initiative of the ICA barring tobacco companies from using the misleading terms "lite," "ultra lite," "light" and "mild" for the products. Such names give the false impression that having reduced levels of tar makes smoking less dangerous, which it does not.
Many decades ago, Winston-Salem's Virginia Slims cigarettes were aimed at American women who wanted to lose weight and were fighting for "liberation."
Super Slims have been advertised recently by the Eliashar Tobacco Distribution Company, which is the Israeli importer of Philip Morris cigarettes. The new brand is thinner than conventional cigarettes, and a menthol aroma has been added, but the ICA says that they are just as deadly as other cigarettes, which cause the deaths of over 10,000 Israelis each year.
Kimhi has not yet given his official answer, but he has told the ICA informally that the tobacco company could easily claim that the "slims" refers only to the cigarettes' shape. He was not optimistic that he could successfully defend a bar on sales of Super Slims in court.
The ICA noted, however, that the term "Super Slims" and others have been prohibited in European and other countries that have ratified and implemented the World Health Organization's Tobacco Framework Convention.
Israel has ratified the convention but has not fully implemented it.