December 1, 2012

Judge Demands Corrective Statements From Cigarette Companies

Cigarettes used to be big money in the days of the AMC drama Mad Men. Not anymore – it’s a thing of the past as cigarette companies face more legal restrictions and a cultural shift on smoking. This past week, a federal judge ordered that tobacco companies have to advertise in media outlets that they had “deliberatively deceived” individuals in the U.S. on the dangers of smoking and manipulated the advertising of their products.

In a report by the Associated Press, cigarette purveyors Phillip Morris, Reynolds, and Lorillard have to also to publicize that smoking causes 1,200 every day and that secondhand smoke results in the deaths of 3,000 people in the U.S. annually.

“This court made a number of explicit findings that the tobacco companies perpetuated fraud and deceived the public regarding the addictiveness of cigarettes and nicotine,” commented U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in the Associated Press article.

The corrective statements must touch on five different topics, such as the addictiveness of smoking and the negative health affects that can come about as a result of smoking. According to USA Today, the companies have not stated where they will be running the ads. Representatives of Altria Group Inc., who own Phillip Morris USA, and Reynolds American Inc., owners of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., noted that they are currently looking over the renewing to determine what steps to take.

Those who are against smoking believe that the ruling by Kessler is significant.

“The most critical part of the ruling is that it requires the tobacco companies to state clearly that the court found that they deceived the American public and that they are telling the truth now only because the court is ordering them to do so,” noted Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in an interview with the Associated Press. “This isn’t the last word, but this is a vitally important step because this should resolve exactly what the tobacco companies are required to say.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that the case has been discussed in the courts for a long period of time. In 2006, Judge Kessler rules that cigarette makers had to make statements about their products on newspapers, product packing, television, and retail displays. The case has been tied up in court due to conflicting opinion on the topics that should be addressed in the corrective statements.

In particular, smoking has been a concern of the federal government for quite some time. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), smoking is linked to disease and disability. A few diseases it is related to include cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and stroke. Also, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death. Even with these facts on morbidity and mortality, the cigarette industry still spent $9.94 billion in advertising in 2008, which amounts to $27 million spent on advertising per day during that year. Much of this advertising is geared towards younger people who are seen as replacement smokers. Every day, thousands of individuals younger than age 18 smoke their first cigarette.

Image Credit: udra11 / Shutterstock

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