US tobacco firms run anti-smoking ads 11 years after court order

November 22, 2017, 4:24 pm

WASHINGTON -- Major tobacco companies will run newspaper and television advertisements in the United States starting this weekend -- not meant to promote smoking, but rather to tell the public about the deadly consequences of smoking.

The tobacco companies are not running these ads voluntarily, but were ordered to do so in 2006 by a federal court that ruled that they had "lied, misrepresented and deceived the American public" about the devastating effects of smoking for more than 50 years.
The ads, formally known as "corrective statements," were the result of a long-running lawsuit the US Department of Justice filed against the cigarette-makers in 1999. However, the industry delayed them for 11 years via multiple appeals.

These appeals came to an end in October when US District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Paul Friedman issued a final implementation order.

Tobacco company defendants in the case included Altria Group, owner of Philip Morris USA, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, a division of British American Tobacco, and Lorillard.

"Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day," one of the corrective statements the tobacco companies are being forced to publicize said. "More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined."

Another declared: "Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction."

The court-ordered statements also highlighted the dangers of secondhand smoke, saying: "Secondhand smoke kills over 38,000 Americans each year. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke."

Starting from November 26, Altria, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard will have to place full-page anti-smoking print ads in the Sunday editions of more than 50 newspapers specified by the court for four months, according to anti-tobacco groups.

The ads must also appear on the newspapers' websites.

Meanwhile, the TV ads will air on the major networks for one year, Monday through Thursday, between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The tobacco companies must also publish the corrective statements on their websites and cigarette packs, but the implementation details are still being finalized. (Xinhua)