Don’t be surprised if you start seeing tobacco ads on television and in newspapers starting as soon as next month. This time, however, these ads aren’t promoting tobacco. If you haven’t been following this for the past 20 years, here is a brief history as to why these ads will run.
In 1999, the U.S. Department of Justice went after the tobacco industry for seven civil fraud and racketeering violations under the RICO act. One of the requests from the DOJ was for “funding for programs dedicated to smoking cessation and public education.”
The decision finally came in 2006 when Judge Gladys Kessler handed down a ruling that for over 50 years the tobacco industry “lied, misrepresented, and deceived the American public, including smokers and the young people they avidly sought as ‘replacement smokers’,” about the dangerous health effects of smoking and secondhand smoke. The judge also noted that while the industry says they don’t want children to smoke, they continue to track “youth behavior and preferences” to reach their target audience. She also faulted their youth smoking prevention programs for not “effectively preventing youth smoking.”
The Justice Department wanted the tobacco industry to pay for “smoking cessation and public education programs” but RICO provisions couldn’t force the industry to do so. What they could be forced to do was to make “corrective statements on topics about which they had historically defrauded and deceived the American public.” Appeals were made by both sides and the court finally ruled on the judgment. The tobacco industry appealed once again, this time to the Supreme Court, which rejected their final appeal.
It has taken nearly two decades but Altria Group, the parent company for Philip Morris (maker of Marlboro cigarettes and others) and British American Tobacco PLC, parent company of Reynolds American Inc, (maker of Newport, Camel, and others) will be running court mandated ads over “misleading statements the industry had made about cigarettes and their health effects.”
The article cited at the bottom of the page says the 30 to 45 second ads will run five days a week for 52 weeks on the major networks of ABC, CBS or NBC, while another article says just once a week. There won’t be any graphic image warnings like you see on some cigarette packs from other countries, but there will be voice narration of black text on a white background that can be seen on the screen. While ads will appear on television and in newspapers, the article doesn’t mention any ads appearing on the Internet, which was still growing when this court case started, or whether the ads will be required on the tobacco companies own websites.
It has taken 50 years to bring the tobacco industry to the point of finally admitting they manipulated the design and chemical composition of a cigarette to make it more addictive and lied about it, as well as lying about the addictive nature of smoking. It sounds like the tobacco industry is still controlling the amount of information getting out to the public while thousands continue to die every week from tobacco use. Let’s hope the American public finally opens their eyes to the deadly deceit.
Click HERE for article relating to the above topic. Click any of the above highlighted clicks to read more about the court case or additional news articles.