Tobacco Cos. to Debut Corrective Statement Ads

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Tobacco Cos. to Debut Corrective Statement Ads

11/22/2017
Tobacco regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Advertisements highlighting the dangers of smoking begin rolling out this week.

Starting Nov. 26, the major U.S. tobacco companies will roll out court-ordered newspaper and TV ads featuring the consequences of smoking and secondhand smoke, more than 11 years after a judge ruled that the companies had misled the public about the dangers of cigarettes, according to The Associated Press.

The new ads detail the toll of smoking in blunt text and voiceover statements: "More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes and alcohol, combined."

Companies will also acknowledge their role in making cigarettes addictive: "Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction," the news outlet reported.

The ads are the result of a lawsuit dating back to 1999 that the U.S. Department of Justice filed against the tobacco companies Altria Group Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Inc., and Philip Morris USA. In 2006, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the companies to make these corrective statements in advertising, and on their websites, cigarette packs and store displays.

The two sides have spent years arguing over the wording of the corrective statements.

Altria Group, owner of Philip Morris USA, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., a division of British American Tobacco, will pay for the campaign.

"This industry has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, including becoming regulated by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration], which we supported," Murray Garnick, Altria's executive vice president and general counsel, said last month when the tobacco companies reached an agreement on the timing of the ads.

"We're focused on the future and, with FDA in place, working to develop less risky tobacco products," he added.

As Altria noted, tobacco is one of the most regulated industries in the United States today. The way in which cigarettes are manufactured, marketed and sold has changed markedly since the lawsuit was filed.

"We remain committed to aligning our business practices with society's expectations of a responsible company. This includes communicating openly about the health effects of our products, continuing to support cessation efforts, helping reduce underage tobacco use and developing potentially reduced-risk products," Garnick said.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the corrective statement ads will first appear in newspapers on Sunday, Nov. 26, with the TV spots debuting the next day.  Implementation details are still being finalized for the company websites and cigarette packs.

According to the organization, the corrective statement schedule is as follows:

TV

  • The ads will run five times per week for one year (52 weeks) for a total of 260 spots.
  • The ads can run Monday through Thursday between 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on one of the three major networks (CBS, ABC or NBC). Each month, up to one-third of the ads may be placed during programs on other networks or channels, provided that program has an overall audience at least as large as a program on one of the three major networks during the assigned time slots.
  • To accommodate the length of the statements, four of the ads will be 45-second spots and one will be a 30-second spot.

Newspapers

  • The tobacco companies will purchase five full-page ads in the first section of the Sunday edition of the 50-plus newspapers specified by the court. Each newspaper ad will contain one of the five corrective statements.
  • For any newspaper that does not publish on a required Sunday, the corrective statement will appear in the first section of the Friday edition immediately preceding that Sunday.
  • The statements will appear in Spanish in Spanish language papers.
  • The defendants will also run the corrective statement as an advertisement on the website of each newspaper at approximately the same time as the print versions.