By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
Tobacco companies will advertise a series of “corrective statements” starting Sunday, more than a decade after a federal court ruled the companies had deceived the public about the deadly products.
These court-ordered ads from major U.S. tobacco companies – including Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard – are set to run on TV, in newspapers, online and on cigarette packaging. “Smoking is highly addictive” and “There’s no such thing as a safe cigarette” are among the statements the companies must use.
The corrective ads are part of a case that the government brought in 1999 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled on that case in 2006. In her final ruling Judge Kessler wrote, “Defendants sold their lethal product with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted.”
Tobacco companies will be compelled to list the various diseases associated with tobacco use and admit that their companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to make them more addictive.
“It’s long overdue for Big Tobacco to finally tell the truth about the devastating health risks of smoking,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. “These ads will remind the public of the irresponsible and deceptive tactics used by the industry for more than five decades, leading to the deaths of millions of Americans.”
Under the agreement with the Department of Justice, each of the statements – displayed in black and white – include a preamble that the federal government mandated tobacco companies to make these statements about the health consequences of smoking.
The tobacco companies fought the court to remove the phrase “here is the truth” from the ads, and are continuing their efforts to aggressively market cigarettes and other tobacco products.
A 2015 report from the Federal Trade Commission found that tobacco companies spend $8.2 billion a year to market cigarettes in the U.S.
Tobacco companies continue to attack efforts to reduce smoking and other tobacco use. Last year, Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds spent at least $100 million to derail cigarette tax increase initiatives in California, Colorado and North Dakota.
But public health experts are encouraged by research that shows corrective statements can be an effective tool in helping people to quit smoking.
A July 2014 poll revealed that up to half of smokers expressed greater motivation to quit and more anger with the tobacco companies after being exposed to corrective statements.
While tobacco use continues to decline in the U.S. — declining among adults from 25 percent in 1995 to 15 percent in 2015 — public health groups such as the AHA and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids continue to advocate for more tobacco control measures, including smoke-free air laws and tobacco excise taxes.
“The public deserves to understand the deadly effects of smoking, and this court-ordered ad campaign underscores the urgent need to continue our fight at the federal, state and local levels until we make America 100 percent tobacco-free,” Brown said.
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