American Spirits is the perfect example of a company that uses greenwashing to market its brand. They tout themselves as eco-friendly, and healthier for the consumer and the environment than other tobacco brands, but these claims have little depth. Their product isn’t healthier for you or the environment, and although they are organic, the impacts of large-scale tobacco growth and the excessive amount of litter from cigarettes make the tobacco industry almost incompatible with any legitimate notion of sustainability. This is an example of dangerous greenwashing, by using the marketability of eco-consciousness to sell life-threatening products to consumers who don’t know any better. If you absolutely have to opt for some kind of tobacco product, at least go for the pouched loose tobacco so that you eliminate filter waste. People don’t smoke for the health benefits, and they know that by and large smoking is bad for you, but it should be illegal (and it is in many countries in Europe) to market such a harmful product as healthy in any way. Cigarette companies have a moral obligation1 to be as transparent as possible because the health of our environment and our people depend on it.
The main ingredient here is obviously tobacco, and while they are good at making their tobacco seem healthier than others, this is just a marketing scheme. Natural, organic, and additive-free are great, but when it comes down to it, there is still tar, carbon monoxide, and heavy metals that make smoking their tobacco just as harmful as smoking any other kind. However, organic farming is much better for the environment, and they claim that all their tobacco is US grown, which means less carbon footprint when catering to an American customer.
Although American Spirit touts themselves as eco-friendly, a study published by NCBI found that “biospheric values are entirely incompatible with smoking cigarettes of any brand,” In other words, American Spirit is greenwashing. Large-scale tobacco growth, organic or not, requires a massive amount of land use, resulting in deforestation. The actual growth and harvest of tobacco also takes a toll. Tobacco plants require a lot of water and deplete soil nutrients. Cigarette butts are the most abundant form of litter that is not only toxic but has a slow decomposition rate. American Spirit claims to have a “100% zero waste to landfill” manufacturing process, but Eric Lambin, PhD, professor of Earth system science at Stanford University also labeled American Spirits eco-friendly claims as “questionable.”
American Spirit is marketed as an alternative cigarette brand seemingly owned by Native Americans, however, this is also part of the greenwashing scheme. American Spirit is actually owned by RJ Reynolds Tobacco, a conglomerate of cigarette brands including Newports and Camels, with CEO Guy Meldrum. The company's website has an entire tab called “commercial integrity” which explains the extent to which the tobacco industry is regulated by the government, which I guess Is supposed to equate to their commercial integrity as a company… In my opinion that is a little bit of a reach, especially since the tobacco industry is notorious for lobbying. Guy Meldrum himself has publicly violated the World Health Organisation tobacco control policies when he met with the prime minister of Pakistan and gave him a check of 5million Rupees as a “donation” to build dams. Though the Prime Minister was at fault as well, the blatant attempt to undermine the WHO and lobby through charity is conniving.