More than 45 years after tobacco ads stopped appearing on American television, the biggest U.S. tobacco companies are returning to the airwaves with a message they never wanted to share.

The major U.S. tobacco companies are being required to run ads in newspapers and on national TV telling the American people the truth about the devastating health consequences of smoking and secondhand smoke.

A federal court in 2006 ordered the companies to make these “corrective statements” after finding them guilty of breaking civil racketeering laws and lying to the public about the dangers of smoking and how they marketed to children. The ads are finally running after 11 years of appeals by the tobacco companies aimed at weakening and delaying the statements.

Public health advocates in Larimer County welcome the anti-tobacco ads because they highlight the devastating toll of tobacco use -- and the need for continued action and attention to protect our community.

“Despite progress in reducing smoking, there is much more work to do,” said Lisa Laake, Tobacco Prevention program supervisor at Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. “Tobacco use is still the leading preventable cause of death and disease, killing more than 5,100 Coloradans each year and costing our state about $2 billion in health care expenses annually.”

The Health Department’s tobacco prevention program works throughout Larimer County communities to build awareness of the health impacts of tobacco use and secondhand smoke. In Fort Collins, staff recently worked with the City of Fort Collins staff as City Council decided to maintain a large smoke-free downtown. Smoke-free areas are proven ways to reduce tobacco use and set healthy norms for youth.

“The new corrective ads are a helpful reminder that tobacco still wreaks havoc on the lives and health of many Coloradans,” added Laake. “In an era marked by many pressing public health concerns, from obesity to opioid abuse, it can be easy to forget that smoking still kills more people every year than murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol combined.”

In 2006, a federal judge issued the verdict against major cigarette manufacturers, detailing how the tobacco companies “have marketed and sold their lethal products with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted.”

The corrective statements that tobacco companies were ordered to publish include statements on five topics about which they had deliberately deceived the public:

  • the adverse health effects of smoking;
  • addictiveness of smoking and nicotine;
  • lack of significant health benefit from smoking “low tar,” “light,” “ultra-light,” “mild” and “natural” cigarettes (products that have been deceptively marketed as less harmful than regular cigarettes);
  • manipulation of cigarette design to ensure optimum nicotine delivery; and
  • adverse health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.

The corrective statement ads are running in print and online in about 50 U.S. newspapers, which were specified by the court. Ads are also running during prime time on the major television networks for one year.

View the full text of the corrective statements and details on when and where they will run.

Published on: 
Friday, January 5, 2018 - 9:21am
Contact Details: 

Katie O'Donnell

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