For decades, the American public has been misled about the dangers of smoking tobacco products. Prior to January 11, 1964, no surgeon general warning–or warning of any kind–was included on the packs of cigarettes as billions of individuals picked up the habit. Marketing advertisements for tobacco cigarettes claimed to provide satisfaction and pleasure, but failed to mention the addictive and deadly side effects of smoking them.
Since that time, the United States has been witness to about 440,000 deaths per year as a result of smoking. In 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler found the tobacco companies Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Altria guilty of violating civil racketeering laws and lying to the public about the dangers of smoking, as well as marketing to children. Judge Kessler ordered these big tobacco companies to publish “corrective statements” regarding their false advertising and blatant lies.
On January 10, 2014, the companies and the U.S. Department of Justice came to an agreement as to how the statements will be implemented and released to the public. Although this is a day that the American public has been waiting on for decades, the process is expected to take longer than originally thought.
The big tobacco companies are expected to appeal the corrective statements provided by Judge Kessler, as they have done previously since the initial ruling. In a statement released by the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and National African American Tobacco Prevention Network, the organizations urge the tobacco companies to end “delay tactics and finally tell the truth to the American people.”
When the tobacco companies have finally run out of time and appeals, they will be forced to implement the corrective statements on the internet, in print, and on television and radio. These statements will address five areas of advertising that the tobacco companies have lied about for so long: 1) the health effects of smoking; 2) the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine; 3) the false advertising of low-tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes; 4) the designing of cigarettes to enhance the delivery of nicotine; and 5) the health effects of secondhand smoke.
Brayton Purcell LLP looks forward to the day that these corrective statements are finally agreed upon and broadcasted to the American public. For too long, individuals have lost lungs, loved ones, and more to tobacco smoking. It is estimated that smokers with no existing lung conditions who quit smoking by age 50 can cut risk of death in the next 15 years by 50%. The dangers are real – don’t wait for the tobacco companies to finally admit to it.