Tobacco company-funded ads spotlight disease, deaths caused by smoking

By Sara Shayanian

Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Tobacco companies are forced to admit the dangers of smoking as part of new ad campaign ordered years ago by a federal court -- now that appeals have run their course.

The companies, including Altria, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Philip Morris USA, will pay for anti-smoking advertisements have started running in newspapers and for TV ads on CBS, ABC and NBC that start airing Monday.


Messages in the ads will include statements like "smoking kills 1,200 people a day;" "Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard and Philip Morris USA intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive;" and "there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke."

"It's a pretty significant moment," Cliff Douglas, the American Cancer Society's vice president for tobacco control, said. "This is the first time they have had to 'fess up and tell the whole truth."

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The Justice Department began its lawsuit against tobacco companies in 1999 with the intent of forcing them to admit the dangers of smoking.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler of the D.C. circuit ruled in 2006 that tobacco companies would have to pay for the ads, but appeals by tobacco companies delayed their implementation.


"Defendants have known many of these facts for at least 50 years or more," Kessler wrote in the decision. "Despite that knowledge, they have consistently, repeatedly and with enormous skill and sophistication, denied these facts to the public, to the government and to the public health community."

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After 11 years, tobacco companies will be forced to comply with Kessler's ruling.

"Employing the highest-paid lawyers in America, the tobacco companies used every tool at their disposal to delay and complicate this litigation to avoid their day of reckoning," Douglas said.

However, tobacco companies won't have to admit to deliberately lying or manipulating in their advertising campaigns and the ads won't have to include images or videos of the effects of smoking.

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Despite significant progress in reducing smoking, the American Cancer Society estimates at least 36.5 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and that cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States.

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