Wednesday November 28, 2012
Tobacco control advocates had much cause for celebration yesterday! In a victory for public health, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ordered strong corrective statements that the tobacco companies must make to explain that they deliberately deceived the American public for decades about the health hazards of their deadly products. The order means that, for the first time, the American people will hear something they’ve never heard before from tobacco companies: the truth.
On full-page ads in major newspapers, broadcast TV, tobacco company websites and cigarette pack inserts, Americans will see and hear truthful statements directly from tobacco companies, including:
- “Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction.”
- “All cigarettes cause cancer, lung disease, heart attacks, and premature death – lights, low tar, ultra lights, and naturals. There is no safe cigarette.”
- “Smoking kills, on average, 1200 Americans. Everyday.”
- “More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined.”
- “’Low tar’ and filtered cigarette smokers inhale essentially the same amount of tar and nicotine as they would from regular cigarettes.”
- “It’s not easy to quit.”
The corrective statements stem from Judge Kessler’s historic 2006 decision in the Department of Justice (DOJ) case against the tobacco industry, which found the major cigarette manufacturers guilty of violating civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The decision was based on powerful evidence that the industry was well aware that smoking and nicotine are addictive, manipulated its products to maximize addiction and deceptively marketed “light” and “low” tar products as healthy alternatives to regular products despite knowing they were just as deadly.
The tobacco industry is guilty of knowingly and willfully deceiving Americans about the hazards of its products, and the corrective statements ordered yesterday require them to admit this. We know that the tobacco industry will have an opportunity to appeal the ruling, but we are hopeful that the industry will take this chance to communicate with the American public in a truthful way about the harms of smoking without further delay – for the very first time!