February 28, 2016
Big Tobacco companies like Phillip Morris STILL have to make public statements about smoking’s harmful effects. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said so in an 11-page court decision. She also slammed the industry’s fraudulent tactics to promote smoking and called the companies’ request to rewrite the public disclosures “ridiculous.”
The ruling stems from an anti-racketeering case that was brought against nine Big Tobacco companies 15 years ago. The conclusion was that the cigarette makers had engaged for over 50 years in a “pervasive scheme to defraud customers and potential customers.” The companies had joined together to make more money by deceiving the public about smoking’s “devastating health effects.”
The companies were ordered to make corrective disclosures on their cigarette packaging, in their ads and on their websites. That’s why they SHOULD be putting out ads that look like this one:
But more often their ads subtly promote a positive image of cigarettes.
A study found that Philip Morris’s “Think. Don’t Smoke” ads resulted in more positive beliefs and attitudes towards cigarettes. Those beliefs increased even after the campaign was no longer aired. Youths who recalled the ads were also less likely to say that they would not smoke within the next year. This study confirmed earlier findings that the anti-smoking campaign actually caused favorable feelings about the tobacco industry.
The campaign’s purpose was not to discourage smoking, but to gain respectability and favor for it among the young.
Fortunately, Judge Kessler approved a draft requiring the cigarette makers to declare that they “intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive” and to
“maximize the ingestion of nicotine, adding ammonia to make the cigarette taste less harsh, and controlling the physical and chemical make-up of the tobacco blend.”