Big Tobacco Pushes Back Against Cigarette Warnings
You haven’t seen cigarette ads since the sixties when Big Tobacco sponsored shows like “The Flintstones,” and “I Love Lucy.” All of that stopped in 1970 when Congress banned cigarette ads from media, but you will begin to see Big Tobacco ads again.
Under a court order, makers will be forced to advertise the dangers of deadly smoking, reports the Chicago Tribune.
The warnings began at the end of November and will appear on network television and newspapers, which are not as popular as Facebook and Netflix among youth. Beginning smokers are targeted for anti-tobacco warnings since most young smokers begin before the age of 18.
They say “More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes and alcohol, combined.”
The ads are the result of a 1999 lawsuit filed by the Justice Department that attempted to recover some of the billions of dollars the government spent on smoking-related illnesses.
But it wasn’t until 2006 that a federal judge agreed, ruling that cigarette makers had lied to the public about the dangers of smoking for more than 50 years. Big Tobacco then agreed to pay settlements to states worth about $246 billion.
Originally, the lawsuit required Big Tobacco to admit to lying, but the companies said that would shame and humiliate them.
These “corrective statements” are part of that settlement and will be paid by Altria Group, which owns Philip Morris, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
Anti-smoking groups agree that admitting to lying would have been more effective, but Big Tobacco has been fighting every conceivable issue, reports the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Big Tobacco companies will still spend about $8 billion a year on store displays, print and mail coupons but its efforts may not make much of an impact.
Adult smokers numbered 42% in the mid-1960s and is down to 15 percent, according to government statistics.
Frustrated with the Food and Drug Administration’s lack of action, in another effort to combat smoking among youth, some cities are limiting the availability of menthol cigarettes, which are considered a starter product that’s appealing to beginning smokers.