Smoking kills an average 1,200 Americans daily, US tobacco companies admitted Sunday in court-ordered ‘corrective statements’ published in newspapers.
The ads have begun appearing 11 years after District Judge Gladys Kessler, in a 1,682-page opinion, ruled in 2006 that the companies violated racketeering laws by deceiving the public for decades on the health dangers of smoking.
One such ad shows a graph of smoking-related deaths in the United States between 2005 and 2009.
And television ads are appearing as well. One ad features black text over a white background that lists the dangers of smoking.
US tobacco companies have been ordered to run television and newspapers advertisements to correct lies they told over the course of the 20th century (Pictured, packs of RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company cigarette brands Pall Mall, Winston, Camel, Doral, and Kool)
One of the ads shows a graph that charts annual smoking related deaths in the United States between 2005 and 2009. The graph uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Kessler ordered them to publish corrective statements on five health topics, but the exact wording of those statements was held up pending tobacco company litigation.
In 2014 the companies and the government reportedly reached agreement that the ads would be published in major Sunday newspapers as well as on prime-time television for a year, and elsewhere including on cigarette packages.
‘A Federal Court has ordered R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Philip Morris USA, Altria and Lorillard to make this statement about the health effects of smoking,’ said the full-page newspaper ad, consisting simply of plain black type on an otherwise bare newspaper page.
‘Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day,’ it said.
The ad continued that ‘more people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes and alcohol, combined,’ with the last word highlighted.
It also listed various diseases and health conditions that ‘smoking also causes’.
An advertisement shown on television displays black text describing the dangers of smoking over a plain white background
The tobacco companies will not be required to publish the corrections online or on social media.
Kessler’s ruling was part of a government racketeering case against major cigarette companies originally brought in September 1999.
Further court-ordered ads with additional health messages will continue appearing in the newspapers of more than 50 major cities through April, said the American Cancer Society.
Along with other health groups, the Cancer Society intervened in the case and made recommendations about the corrective statements.
Their publication is ‘a significant victory for public health,’ the Cancer Society said on its website.
‘What this case has succeeded in doing is to finally force the tobacco industry to ´fess up to what it has known and done for the past 50 years,’ said Cliff Douglas, director of the Cancer Society’s Center for Tobacco Control.
‘The industry has deliberately addicted millions of people with a product it knew would kill as many as half of them years before their time.’
In 2015, $8.9billion was spent on advertising and promotion of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco combined.
According to the CDC, more than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking and cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the US.
‘The tobacco companies’ basic strategy for everything, whether it’s science or regulation or litigation, is delay,’ Stan Glantz, an expert on tobacco company strategy at the University of California, San Francisco, told The Guardian.
‘They have used a lot of arguing about what in terms of the real world are trivial issues, to delay having to make these statements for 11 years – but it is what the tobacco companies do.
‘The problem is the technology has moved on, and the statements are not in social media because it didn’t really exist back then. But better late than never.’