News / Advertising

US tobacco companies to release anti-smoking ads under court order


The largest tobacco firms in the world are to release anti-smoking newspaper and TV campaigns under a court order, starting this Sunday in the US. These so-called “corrective statement” ads will inform the public about the dangers of smoking, to make up for decades of neglecting to tell the public of its adverse health impacts and addictiveness. As the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network reported, the judge said this violated civil racketeering and fraud laws, and paying for these campaigns is part of their sentence.

The court has also ordered these “corrective statement” ads to run on the companies’ websites and on cigarette packs, but details are still being finalised.

An ad released online states plainly: “A federal court has ordered Altria, RJ Reynolds, Lorillard and Philip Morris USA to make this statement about the health effects of smoking. 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.”

The US Justice Department originally filed the lawsuit against the Big Tobacco firms and tobacco trade organisations in 1999. The court first ordered the campaigns 11 years ago, but the tobacco companies have fought to alter the terms and details of the ads – for example the use of the phrase “here is the truth” – and therefore delayed this outcome over a decade. The bare bones campaigns also cost a fraction of the amount tobacco companies once spent on marketing their products.