In 1963 Liggett & Myers introduced the Lark brand with its trademark charcoal filter in an effort to halt a five year downward drift in sales. 1 The distinguishing feature of the brand, both in terms of physical characteristics and taste was the 3 piece “Keith” filter, the middle section of which contains small charcoal granules, which purportedly reduces the harshness of the cigarette’s smoke.

Liggett & Myers underwent several corporate name changes over the ensuing years but kept the Lark brand in their product mix until 1998, when Liggett Vector Brands Inc. sold Lark, along with the L&M & Chesterfield brands, for $300 million to Philip Morris Companies Inc., later known as the Altria Group. (The sale involved only domestic rights Philip Morris already owned the international rights to the three brands, which it had purchased in the late 1970s.) 2 As of 2008, Lark continues to be manufactured and sold by Philip Morris USA, a subsidiary of Altria Group. 3

Since its introduction and despite several prominent advertising campaigns, Lark has never held a large share of the U.S. cigarette market. As of 2008 update , the brand had less than 1% of the U.S. market share, but was extremely popular in Japan. citation needed

Packaging and ingredients edit

Lark is currently sold in the following packages

  • Lark Red Pack (Full Flavor) Soft Kings and 100s
  • Lark White Pack (Lights) Soft Kings and 100s

The Lark Soft Pack contains the following ingredients (listed in descending order by weight) and tar and nicotine content 4

  • Tobacco
  • Clove
  • Water
  • Sugars (Sucrose and/or Invert Sugar and/or High Fructose Corn Syrup)
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Glycerol
  • Licorice Extract
  • Diammonium Phosphate
  • Ammonium Hydroxide
  • Cocoa and Cocoa Products
  • Carob Bean and Extract
  • Natural and Artificial Flavors
  • Tar (12 mg)
  • Nicotine (1.0 mg)

Lark which is sold in Japan

  • Lark Full Flavor(Soft/Box/100’s Box)
  • Lark Milds(Soft/Box/100’s Box)
  • Lark Classic Milds(Box)
  • Lark Super Milds(Box/100’s Box)
  • Lark Extra Milds(Box/100’s Box)
  • Lark Ultra One(Box/100’s Box)
  • Lark Menthol X(Box)
  • Lark Milds Menthol(Box)
  • Lark Super Menthol(Box)
  • Lark Ultra Menthol(Box/100’s Box)
  • Lark Mint Splash(Box(Menthol Mint Capsule))

Advertising history edit

From its introduction in 1963, the brand came in a maroon colored package with white print (the trademark shield was initially white but was soon changed to gold along with some of the other graphics). And for most of the brand s life it has sported the motto Richly Rewarding, yet Uncommonly Smooth.

Although Philip Morris continues to promote the brand heavily in Japan, it receives little to no domestic advertising. This would explain why its share of the U.S. market has declined over the years since experts generally agree that cigarette brands usually lose market share when they are no longer promoted. 5

Past advertising campaigns, however, have been conspicuous. As expected, much of the advertising, particularly that in print, centered on the charcoal filter and its effect on taste. 6 Probably the most extensively run and best remembered advertisement, however, was a television spot from the 1960s in which an off screen narrator exhorted those on the street to show us your Lark pack. Meanwhile, throughout the piece the William Tell Overture blared while the words have a Lark, have a Lark, have a Lark today were sung to the overture s melody. Everyone it seemed had a pack of Larks and was only too happy to show them. 1

Another notable advertisement campaign from the early 1970s featured a hot air balloon with the Lark brand name and colors, as seen here 2 and here 3 . The balloon was a symbol for the “smoothness” of Lark cigarettes. 4

Lark was also advertised in the 1980s with James Bond style appearances by Timothy Dalton and Roger Moore. Future Bond Pierce Brosnan also advertised Larks in two commercials that aired only in Japan.

Parodies edit

  • On George Carlin’s album FM & AM, Carlin insinuates that “Show us your Lark” is a hidden sexual innuendo he remarks, “Don’t try that Lark thing in the Bowery those guys will show you their Larks, man.”
  • A parody of the commercial was created by comedian Stan Freberg for Jeno’s Pizza Rolls. In it, tuxedo clad partygoers are asked to show their packages of frozen Jeno’s Pizza Rolls and they do. Ultimately a Lark executive (Barney Phillips) complains about the use of the music followed by the appearance of the Lone Ranger and Tonto asking the Lark executive about the same thing. 7
  • A similar parody was presented in a fake commercial for Saturday Night Live during its first season, where the announcer urged everyone to “show us your guns”, in a similar manner as the Lark commercial, minus the singing. The parody first aired on SNL’s very first episode on October 11, 1975. 8

Health concerns edit

Because of its unique activated charcoal filter, from its inception Lark has been the subject of inquiry into whether it is safer or more harmful than cigarettes in general.

According to Anne Landman with the American Lung Association of Colorado, “The technique used in the marketing of Lark through hospitals and the medical profession was exactly similar to that used in the marketing of Kent in 1952.” Ms. Landman’s research, which she began in 1998, further reveals that Liggett & Myer’s marketing campaign several months before the release of the Surgeon General’s 1964 Report on Smoking and Health was directed at creating the rumor that medical scientists endorsed Lark as the safest cigarette. This marketing technique is credited for Lark’s sales surpassing those of Kent in the Buffalo area and nearly doing so in the Houston area. 9

Perhaps the biggest controversy about the reputed safety of Lark cigarettes was created by the publication of It Is Safe to Smoke by scientist Lloyd Mallan. Mallan recounts the findings of numerous scientists who all conclude based on the research conducted that smoking can be rendered harmless or considerablely less harmful if the cigarette is equipped with a charcoal filter. The only other brand in the United States at the time with a charcoal filter was Tareyton, whose filter had a different structure from Lark and was deemed to be less effective. 10 Hawthorne Publishing, however, took the book off the market in 1967 after a congressional investigation was launched into allegations that the tobacco industry had financed it. 11

Subsequent research questioned whether the charcoal filter might have actually made Lark a more dangerous cigarette. A paper published in March 1997 by J.L. Pauly, et al., offered the following conclusion

Charcoal granules are incorporated into cigarette filters to aid in removing toxins in cigarette smoke. In studies of Lark, a popular American cigarette with a charcoal filter, charcoal granules were observed on the filter surface, and were released from the filter when the cigarettes were smoked. During smoking, the toxin containing charcoal granules are inhaled or ingested. The specific adverse health effects of inhaling or ingesting carbon granules have not been addressed nevertheless, the smoker, as an educated consumer, should be informed of the possible health risks.


References edit

What you need to know about electronic cigarettes

M s discount cigarettes – phoenix, az

Electronic cigarettes have become a staple of everyday UK life in a remarkably short time, but questions about their safety, efficacy and legal status still need to be answered. Dr Ilze Bogdanovica, Professor Linda Bauld and Professor John Britton from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies review the facts and give their views.

Electronic cigarettes commonly known as e cigarettes are novel nicotine delivery devices that were developed in China more than 10 years ago. Most first generation devices bore a physical resemblance to cigarettes (so called cigalikes), but a wide range of larger designs known by various names including personal vapourisers and clearomisers has since been introduced.

E cigarettes have been available in the UK since around 2005, and since then sales and use have risen dramatically. This rapid proliferation in the UK and elsewhere has provoked extensive debate on the role of e cigarettes in health and society. Although some claim that uncertainty about their effects and role in tobacco control precludes e cigarettes from being endorsed on health grounds, others argue that any products that offer a significantly lower hazard alternative to tobacco should be welcomed.

Potential benefits

According to data from the Smoking Toolkit Study, the proportion of smokers in England who have used an e cigarette in the past three months increased from around 2% in May 2011 to more than 15% in November 2013 equivalent to around 1.3 million smokers in the UK. Use does not seem to vary by sex or socioeconomic status. Use among non smokers in the UK, and particularly among young non smokers, is rare. Although data for prevalence suggest that growth stalled in late 2013, some people have forecast that use of these products will soon overtake that of cigarettes.

Most smokers who use e cigarettes do so to help them to cut down or stop smoking, though some report use predominantly to replace cigarettes at times when smoking is not allowed or accepted. Smokers smoke for nicotine, but are killed by the carcinogens, carbon monoxide and many other toxins that accompany nicotine in tobacco smoke. Because e cigarettes deliver nicotine in vapour rather than smoke, their emissions are limited to those contained in, or generated from, the nicotine solution used in the device.

Although data for e cigarette emissions are sparse, those available suggest that nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine, flavours (sometimes) and a range of contaminants or products of the heating process, including tobacco specific nitrosamines, carbonyls, volatile organic compounds and metals, are present in the vapours. Although less pure than the vapour produced by a medicinal nicotine inhaler product (such as the Nicorette Inhalator), e cigarette emissions are much less hazardous than tobacco smoke.

The main benefit of e cigarettes, therefore, is that they provide inhalable nicotine in a formulation that mimics the behavioural components of smoking but has relatively little risk. And for the smoker who cannot quit, or wants to continue to use nicotine in a manner that resembles smoking, e cigarettes are an obvious choice. Switching completely from tobacco to e cigarettes achieves much the same in health terms as does quitting smoking and all nicotine use completely. Furhtermore, e cigarettes tend to be cheaper than is tobacco smoking, and risks associated with passive exposure to e cigarette vapour are far less than those associated with passive exposure to tobacco smoke.

Potential hazards

The potential hazards of e cigarettes fall into three broad categories those from the product itself, those arising from the relationship between use and tobacco smoking, and those from the exploitation of e cigarettes to promote tobacco smoking.

Given the likely low hazard of inhaled nicotine, potential risks to health from the product arise almost entirely from the other constituents of vapour. The main component is propylene glycol, which is thought to be safe, although adverse lung effects from sustained long term inhalation cannot be ruled out. Similar concerns apply to other constituents, but again the risks are probably slight. Thus, even in the absence of regulation to ensure product standards, the direct hazard to users irrespective of smoking status and others, from e cigarettes is low. However, the introduction of product standards to avoid or minimise contamination could further reduce any ill effects.

The greater potential risks, and much of the controversy, arise from the relationship between e cigarette use and tobacco smoking. There are concerns about sustained dual use in smokers who might otherwise have quit completely and also that continued use of e cigarettes might make relapse to smoking more likely among those who have quit tobacco completely. Although it is too early to tell whether smokers who quit smoking with e cigarettes are more likely to relapse than are those who use other methods, no evidence as yet shows that dual use results in reduced quit rates.

For non smokers, the worry is that using e cigarettes will either lead to nicotine addiction and sustained use or act as a gateway to smoking. Again, no evidence suggests that either of these outcomes is occurring to an appreciable degree. Some non smoking young people are trying e cigarettes, but in very small numbers, and any gateway risk should be assessed in the context that nearly one in five 16 19 year olds in Britain has already become a regular tobacco smoker. Given the small risks of exclusive e cigarette use, progression to tobacco use will thus be a problem only if it adds to the total number taking up tobacco smoking.

In practice, new users of e cigarettes are probably most likely to come from the same population of young people who currently experiment with tobacco. The available data suggest that, in any case, young non smokers are not keen on e cigarettes, and data from Poland suggest that most of the interest in young age groups arises, as in adults, from those who already smoke tobacco.

Much concern has been expressed that use of e cigarettes in public, especially in places where tobacco smoking is prohibited, undermines the denormalisation of smoking achieved in recent years and hence promotes smoking. Concerns about renormalisation through use in places where smoking is prohibited assume that e cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes look so similar that non smokers, and particularly children, cannot tell the difference, which is unlikely. E cigarettes especially later generation products clearly look different, and the odourless vapour that they produce is quite different from tobacco smoke.

Advertising for e cigarettes, much of which is reminiscent of that for cigarettes from decades ago, could actually promote tobacco smoking, some argue. This issue could be resolved by appropriate regulation and prescreening, as applies to medicines, but action is probably needed to prevent inappropriate advertising. Perhaps of more concern is the fact that these effects are a key driver of the growing involvement of multinational tobacco companies in the e cigarette market, providing these companies with opportunities to circumvent restrictions imposed by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on engagement of the tobacco industry with policy makers. This issue of tobacco industry manipulation to undermine tobacco control policy should be resolvable through stricter adherence to the convention.

E cigarettes as cessation or harm reduction products

Although evidence is limited, first generation cigalike products probably deliver a similar amount of nicotine to Nicorette Inhalators, and are about as effective but no more effective as cessation therapy as are transdermal nicotine patches. Later generation vapourisers might be more effective in terms of nicotine delivery, which is likely to improve further as the technology develops. The strength of e cigarettes in health terms probably lies less in their ability to compete as pharmacological therapies
than in their consumer acceptability, wide availability, non medical image and price advantage over cigarettes. Although trends in the use of nicotine products in smokers show that e cigarettes have displaced some conventional use of nicotine replacement therapy, particularly over the counter sales, they seem to have led to a substantial increase in the proportion of smokers and ex smokers using an alternative source of nicotine.

E cigarettes thus appear to be providing smokers with a valuable alternative route to smoking cessation. However, switching to e cigarettes without behavioural support is probably far less effective than use in conjunction with the support currently offered alongside licensed drugs by NHS Stop Smoking Services. Unfortunately, the unlicensed status of e cigarettes precludes endorsement by the NHS or organisations such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). This situation will probably change this year, however, when the first licensed e cigarettes are likely to emerge on the market.

UK regulation

E cigarettes are marketed in the UK as consumer products, and are thus exempt from medicines and tobacco regulations. Suppliers have no obligation to provide data for the performance of the products they sell, and few do. In 2013 the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency announced their intention to regulate e cigarettes as medicines from 2016, using a streamlined light touch approach to apply medicines standards of purity and delivery, and prescreen advertising to prevent marketing abuse.

In a parallel development, under the revised European Union Tobacco Products Directive, unlicensed e cigarettes will become subject to tobacco regulation, which prohibits advertising, requires a health warning to be printed on packs, and will impose as yet unspecified purity standards from 2017. Although medicines licensing increases manufacturing costs, licensed products in the UK qualify for 5% rather than 20% sales tax, will be available on prescription through health services as well as on general sale, and can be advertised as cessation or harm reduction products. It is therefore likely that while some suppliers will opt for regulation as a tobacco product, others will opt for medicines regulation. In either case, these forms of regulation will resolve many of the concerns outlined above.

Despite the controversies, it is clear that e cigarettes are far less hazardous than is tobacco. With more than a million UK smokers using them to help to cut down or quit smoking, they are proving to be valuable harm reduction and cessation products and could make a substantial contribution to reducing the burden of death, disability and poverty currently caused by tobacco smoking. Health professionals should embrace this potential by encouraging smokers, particularly those disinclined to use licensed nicotine replacement therapies, to try them, and, when possible, to do so in conjunction with existing NHS smoking cessation and harm reduction support. E cigarettes will save lives, and we should support their use.

The views expressed are those of the authors.


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