Court orders tobacco companies to run corrective statement ads
Kitsap County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalitions and the Kitsap Public Health District welcome corrective statement ads that the federal court has ordered tobacco companies to run nationally in newspapers and television. They hope the ads will focus attention on the public health problem caused by tobacco use and second-hand smoke, and the evidence-based practices and policies known to prevent and reduce tobacco use.
"We're hopeful these publicized corrective statements will shine the light on practices of the tobacco industry and encourage leaders to implement evidence-based programs and practices that will help bring about the first tobacco-free generation," said Laura Hyde of Kitsap County Substance Abuse Prevention and Youth Services. "We have many groups in Kitsap County working together on this goal, some of which are the Bremerton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, the Kitsap County Commission on Children and Youth, North Kitsap Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, and the Kitsap Public Health District's Chronic Disease Prevention Program."
Eleven years after a federal court in ordered the tobacco companies to make these corrective statements and following multiple appeals, the ads are finally running. The courts ruled the tobacco companies violated civil racketeering laws, defrauded the American people by lying about the health effects of smoking and the addictiveness of cigarettes and nicotine, and marketed cigarettes to children. In Washington last year alone, there were a reported 49,000 youth and 892,000 adult tobacco users and smoking remains one of the major causes of illnesses in the state. In 2015 nationwide, tobacco companies spent nearly $9 billion in tobacco-related spending. Not surprisingly, 9 out of 10 tobacco users start before the age of 18.
In her landmark ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler described how tobacco companies targeted youth with sophisticated marketing campaigns that track youth behavior and preferences then market tobacco to them using imagery that appeals directly to the desires of adolescents. The U.S. Surgeon General agreed with the finding.
Judge Kessler ordered the tobacco companies to publish corrective statements on five topics about which they had deliberately deceived the public including: the adverse health effects of smoking; the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine; the lack of significant health benefits from smoking "low tar," "light" or "natural" cigarettes; the manipulation of cigarette design and composition to ensure optimum nicotine delivery; and the adverse health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.
"It is a step forward that Big Tobacco has been forced to issue these long-overdue corrective statements," Hyde said.
The corrective statement ads began running Nov. 26 in print and online in about 50 newspapers specified by the court, and will also run Dec. 10, Jan. 7, Feb. 4 and March 4. Ads must also be broadcast during prime time on the major television networks for one year. The tobacco companies must also publish the corrective statements on their websites and cigarette packs. The tobacco companies will pay all costs associated with these corrective ads. Some implementation details are still being finalized.
For more information about the implementation of the court-ordered corrective statements, click here. Follow these links to view the full text of the corrective statements and details on when and where they will run. To learn more about Substance Abuse Prevention efforts in Kitsap County, visit https://spf.kitsapgov.com/hs/Pages/PREVENTION-Landing.aspx .