Smoking is injurious to health, know one and all. But cigarette manufacturers in the US believe otherwise. Now, these tobacco companies have been asked to run ads across TV and newspapers rebutting their claims over the 20th century about the ‘benefits’ of smoking. The ‘corrective statements’ are part of a 2006 judgment in which a US Court found that tobacco manufacturers are deceiving US consumers.
Tobacco companies Lorillard Inc, Philip Morris US, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company and Altria Group will be paying for the ads, as ordered by the Court. The Court specified more than 50 newspapers including The New York Times, USA Today, La Voz de Houston and The Northern Kentucky Herald to carry weekly full page ads. It also requires the companies to place five ads a week for a year on the three major networks — NBC, ABC and CBS. The companies, however, have not been mandated to run corrective ads on social media. In 1999, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) had sued several tobacco companies for fraudulent and unlawful conduct and reimbursement of tobacco-related medical expenses. In August, 2006 Judge Kessler issued an opinion holding the tobacco companies liable for violating RICO by fraudulently covering up the health risks associated with smoking and for marketing their products to children. In May, 2009 the three-judge panel unanimously upheld Judge Kessler’s decision finding the tobacco companies liable.
In the 1940s, Camel’s ad claimed that doctors gravitate towards Camel products, while Lucky Strike claimed ‘physicians said that Luckies were less harmful to the consumer’s throat than other cigarettes’. Such detrimental ad campaigns by tobacco companies encouraged people to buy their products, said the Court, even as cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the US.