American Tobacco Companies Are Paying To Advertise That Smoking Kills – Here’s Why

Prime-time television commercials and full-page ads in national newspapers would be run by some of the largest tobacco companies in the United States. But eagerness for their products is likely too be spurred by the campaign.

“More people,” one ad says, “die every year from smoking than murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined.” Another reads: “Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction.”

Altria, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard and Philip Morris USA had been ordered to run these statements by a federal court is displayed at the beginning of each ad.

The cigarette making companies were ordered to disseminate “corrective statements” focused on the associated health risks and the addictive nature of smoking in the 2006 ruling in the suit that was filed by Justice Department in 1999 seeking to chastise the cigarette makers for misleading the public about the dangers of cigarette for decades. But wrangling the wordings and appeals were used by the companies to resist that order.

“It’s both an important victory and a frustrating one,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, who has worked on the case since 1999. He said that the tobacco companies “have spent millions of dollars and a decade of time resisting a court order that simply requires them to publish truthful facts about their products and their behavior.”

Exclusion of the phrase “here’s the truth” in the ads was negotiated by the tobacco companies, Mr. Myers said.

While there were no immediate statements available from Altria, owner of Philip Morris USA and the producer of Marlboro cigarettes, even though its general counsel Murray Garnick, has=d said inn a Oct. 2 statement that “includes communicating openly about the health effects of our products, continuing to support cessation efforts, helping reduce underage tobacco use and developing potentially reduced-risk products.”

The company was “fully complying with its obligations under the court order”, said R. J. Reynolds, which is part of British American Tobacco with Lorillard.

“I certainly don’t think that what we have finally ended up with is really in the spirit of the original ruling,” said Ruth Malone, a professor of nursing and public health policy at the University of California, San Francisco, who consulted for the Justice Department in the case.

“The original ruling was so that the American public would understand that they had been deceived through multiple means about whether smoking caused disease, whether smoking killed people, whether secondhand smoke caused disease, whether nicotine was addictive,” she said.

Compared to the latest version of the ads, the 2011 proposed ads were tougher. One said: “We told Congress under oath that we believed nicotine is not addictive. We told you that smoking is not an addiction and all it takes to quit is willpower. Here’s the truth: Smoking is very addictive. And it’s not easy to quit. We manipulated cigarettes to make them more addictive.”

The initially proposed statements were “forced public confessions” designed to “shame and humiliate them”, Tobacco companies have argued.

There would be statements according to categories like the “adverse health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke” and the “manipulation of cigarette design and composition to ensure optimum nicotine delivery” and the “manipulation of cigarette design and composition to ensure optimum nicotine delivery” with five different ads. Some of the other statements include “Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and coronary heart disease in adults who do not smoke” and “Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day.”

According to data from the Federal Trade Commission, over $8 billion was spent on advertising and promotional expenses in 2014 by the American cigarette manufacturers.

(Adapted from The New York Times)

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