Letter to the editor: Court mandates force tobacco companies to tell the truth

By DONNA McGINLEY

South-Central Wisconsin Tobacco-Free Coalition member

As of Sunday, Nov. 26, the major U.S. tobacco companies are running federal court-mandated TV and print ads highlighting the negative health effects of smoking and secondhand smoke as well as how the tobacco industry designed cigarettes to be more addictive.

The ads are a result of a 2006 federal court ruling which ordered the tobacco companies to issue “corrective statements” after finding they had deliberately deceived the American public about the health effects of smoking and industry plans to market tobacco to kids.

Some of the statements in the ads include the following:

• “Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day.”

• “More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol combined.”

• “Smoking also causes reduced fertility, low birth weight in newborns, and cancer of the cervix.”

The tobacco industry used appeals to delay and weaken the rule for over 11 years, and now the federal court order is forcing the tobacco companies to run the ad. The industry’s unwillingness to do the ads is made even more obvious when you look at them. While most cigarette ads feature bright colors, attractive models, and the promise of fun, these court-mandated ads almost seem designed to be ignored, simply featuring plain text over a white background.

The TV ads will run five times perweek for one year. The ads can run Monday through Thursday between 7–10 p.m. on one of the three major networks (CBS, ABC, or NBC). The ads will also run for five weeks in major newspapers, including the New York Times, USA Today and the Washington Post.

To get involved in tobacco prevention, contact the South-Central Wisconsin Tobacco-Free Coalition at (608) 847-9373. South-Central Wisconsin Tobacco-Free Coalition encourages all individuals who use tobacco to call the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line at (800) QUIT-NOW for free help with quitting tobacco.

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