On November 26th, the largest U.S. tobacco companies were forced to begin running ads that finally tell the truth about the deadly consequences of smoking and second-hand smoke. These ads, called corrective statements, will run online and in print in about 50 newspapers nationwide. They will also appear during prime time on the major television networks for a period of one year.
A federal judge in 2006 ordered tobacco companies to run these ads after finding them guilty of racketeering and concluding that they had spent decades deceiving the American public about their products. 11 years later, after many appeals by the tobacco companies as they sought to delay and weaken the statements, the ads are finally running. You can read the full text of the ads here.
The ads focus on five topics about which the tobacco companies had intentionally deceived the public, according to Judge Kessler.
- the adverse health effects of smoking;
- addictiveness of smoking and nicotine;
- lack of significant health benefit from smoking “low tar,” “light,” “ultra light,” “mild” and “natural” cigarettes (products that have been deceptively marketed as less harmful than regular cigarettes);
- manipulation of cigarette design and composition to ensure optimum nicotine delivery; and
- adverse health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.
In her lengthy opinion in the case, Judge Kessler wrote that the tobacco companies had “marketed and sold their lethal products 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.”
Despite significant progress in reducing smoking, tobacco use is still the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans and costing the nation about $170 billion in health care expenses each year.
These ads are a great step forward, but we’ll need your help as we continue fighting tobacco in 2018 and striving to make all our communities healthier.