Tobacco companies in the United States have begun running television and newspaper advertisements referred to as “corrective statements” in major US-based outlets about the dangers of smoking cigarettes following a court order by a US District Judge.
According to the order issued by Paul Friedman, which must begin on November 26, tobacco companies will say what they had hidden from consumers and public health authorities for decades – that cigarettes are addictive and deadly and that tobacco companies “intentionally design them to make users more addictive.”
The corrective statements stem from a lawsuit filed by the US Justice Department in 1999 and a landmark judgment issued in 2006 by US District Judge Gladys Kessler, who found that tobacco companies had defrauded Americans by lying about the effects of smoking and their marketing to children.
“These corrective statements are not voluntary nor part of a legal settlement – a court has ordered tobacco giants to take this action,” the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said in an emailed statement on Monday.
In the latest decision by the US court, tobacco companies including Altria (the former parent company of Philip Morris International) and Reynolds (a US subsidiary of British American Tobacco) are required to publish one of the five corrective statements in 30-second prime time TV ads and also run full-page advertisements in 50 newspapers – including their online versions – around the country. The TV spots will run five times weekly for 52 weeks.
The corrective statements detail the advert health effects of smoking (kills more people than murder, AIDS, suicide, car crashes, and alcohol combined); addictiveness of smoking and nicotine (cigarette companies intentionally design cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction); and adverse effects of second-hand smoke (kills 38,000 Americans each year).
The rest include lack of significant health benefit from smoking ‘low tar,’ ‘light,’ ‘ultra light,’ ‘mild,’ and ‘natural’ cigarettes (‘low tar’ and ‘light’ cigarette smokers inhale essentially the same amount of tar and nicotine as they would from regular cigarettes) and manipulation of cigarette design to ensure optimum nicotine delivery (designing filters and selecting paper size to maximise the ingestion of nicotine). Read more