Chris Hansen, ACS CAN President

A Blog From the ACS CAN President

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Big Tobacco Ordered to Run Ads in Newspapers and on TV About Deadly Products

November 28, 2017

For the first time, the American people are hearing something they've never heard before from the tobacco industry: the truth – but only because a court ordered them to do it. Corrective statement advertisements are now appearing in newspapers across the country and on network television during primetime. These court-ordered corrective statements make Big Tobacco come clean after decades of lies and deceit about the harms of their products. 

For more than 50 years, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has been a leader in the fight against tobacco. In fact, the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health relied heavily on data gathered in an ACS-funded study that looked at the effect of cigarette smoking on death rates from cancer and other diseases. It was in that original Surgeon General’s report that the country’s top health official confirmed that smoking causes disease and death. 

Big Tobacco, however, spent decades and billions of dollars peddling a different story and has thrived on the business of deceit and manipulation by marketing to children and lying to adults about the harms of its deadly products. As late as 1994, tobacco industry executives testified under oath during a Congressional hearing that cigarettes aren’t addictive.

The corrective statements are a result of a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in 1999, which led to the 2006 landmark ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler. She found that the tobacco companies had violated civil racketeering laws and defrauded the American people by lying for decades about the health effects of smoking and their marketing to children.

ACS joined the DOJ lawsuit as an intervenor in 2005, along with the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, National African American Tobacco Prevention Network and the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund, to be a constant voice representing the best interests of public health.

“The Defendants have repeatedly made vigorous and impassioned public denials – before Congressional committees, in advertisements in the national print media, and on television – that neither smoking nor nicotine is addictive, and that they do not manipulate, alter, or control the amount of nicotine contained in the cigarettes they manufacture,” Kessler wrote in her 1,683-page opinion. “The Findings of Fact . . . provide overwhelming evidence that those statements are false.” 

These corrective statement ads will run in newspapers from now through April and on television every week for the next 52 weeks. And Big Tobacco is being forced to pay for it all.

As you open your papers and turn on your TV to see the long-awaited, truth-telling ads about the dangerous and deadly effects of tobacco use, join me in taking a moment to mark this historic victory for our nation’s health. 

But remember, our work is not over. Despite major progress, tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S. and kills more than 480,000 Americans every year. 

ACS, ACS CAN and our partners remain committed to reducing the deadly toll tobacco takes on our country. We’ll continue working with lawmakers at all levels of government to prioritize evidence-based polices that help people quit smoking and keep kids from ever starting the deadly addiction.

To learn more about this historic campaign and to help us spread the word about the corrective statement ads, visit acscan.org/tobaccoads and connect with us on our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.