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Tobacco companies to run court-ordered ads

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 27, 2017
Contact:  Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
                Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391

Tobacco companies to run new court-ordered ads nationwide

Ads highlight the dangers of using tobacco products, include ‘corrective statements’

Starting this week, Montanans will begin to see new television and newpaper ads placed by the major U.S. tobacco companies that focus on the deadly consequences of smoking and secondhand smoke. The companies are placing the ads as a result of a recent federal court ruling.

A federal court in 2006 ordered the companies to make “corrective statements” after finding the companies deceived the public about the dangers of smoking and how they marketed to children. The ads will run after 11 years of appeals by the tobacco companies aimed at weakening and delaying the statements. They even fought (successfully) to remove the phrase ‘here is the truth’ from the corrective statements, which would have highlighted the fact that the industry deliberately deceived the public.

“Each year, tobacco costs Montana 1,600 lives and $440 million in health care expenditures, including $81 million in Medicaid dollars,” said DPHHS State Medical Officer Dr. Greg Holzman. “These ads serve as a reminder that tobacco’s terrible toll is no accident. It is caused directly by the deceptive tobacco industry.”

In Montana alone, 12.1 percent of high school students still smoke, and 400 kids become regular smokers each year, contributing to thousands of premature deaths due to smoking. 

“The tobacco industry has long profited from deceptively promoting products that lead to disease, death and economic hardship,” said Nicole Aune of the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program. “In Montana, the tobacco industry spends $28.9 million yearly marketing tobacco products to young adults. Not surprisingly, nine out of 10 tobacco users start before the age of 18.”

On Aug. 17, 2006, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler issued her verdict against the companies. In a 1,683-page final opinion, she detailed how the tobacco companies “have marketed and sold their lethal products with zeal, with deception, with a singled-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted.” Importantly, Judge Kessler concluded, “The evidence in this case clearly establishes that Defendants have not ceased engaging in unlawful activity.”

Judge Kessler ordered the tobacco companies to publish corrective statements on five topics about which they had deliberately deceived the public:

  • the adverse health effects of smoking;
  • addictiveness of smoking and nicotine;
  • lack of significant health benefit from smoking “low tar,” “light,” “ultra light,” “mild” and “natural” cigarettes (products that have been deceptively marketed as less harmful than regular cigarettes);
  • manipulation of cigarette design and composition to ensure optimum nicotine delivery; and
  • adverse health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Nearly half of Montana high school students have tried e-cigarettes and 10 percent currently use smokeless tobacco products. The tobacco industry targets kids with these products by using colorful packaging, candy-like flavors, and placing them at eye level and within reach. Some of the most well-known brands of e-cigarettes are produced by the same tobacco companies required to release corrective statements on the harmful effects of cigarette smoking.

The corrective statement ads started running Nov. 26 in print and online in about 50 newspapers specified by the court. They will also run 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.

For help quitting, call the Montana Tobacco Quit Line, a free service available to all Montanans who would like to quit using all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Calling the Quit Line is toll-free at 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669), or visit the website at www.QuitNowMontana.com to enroll.

View the full text of the corrective statements and details on when and where they will run.