Tobacco companies are being forced by court order to run ads revealing facts they long hid from the public about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke. However, the tobacco industry fought for more than a decade over the wording of these “corrective statements,” and as a result the ads lack some key details about their deceptions that surfaced during the trial. In her 2006 ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler stated that the tobacco companies deceived the public, suppressed research and perpetuated addiction in order to protect their profits. Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of Minnesota health organizations, is launching a new ad campaign and website to help the tobacco companies tell the full truth.
The new coalition website, BigTobaccoLied.com, features the court-ordered corrective statement ads, edited to expose how the tobacco industry lied and attempted to hide the dangerous health effects of smoking for decades. In addition, edited corrective statements in print and digital ads will call out the tobacco industry’s tactics and long history of deceiving the public.
The tobacco companies began running their paid ads containing the corrective statements on November 26, 2017. The ads will run on television for a year and in newspapers until March 2018. The tobacco companies are also required to post statements on their websites and affix corrective statements to cigarette packs several times during a two-year period.
“Judge Kessler was very clear in her ruling against the tobacco industry, and with this ad campaign we want Minnesotans to understand the full scope of Big Tobacco’s negative impact on our state,” said Janelle Waldock, Vice President of Community Health and Health Equity at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and co-chair of Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation. “The major tobacco companies are being forced to admit they deceived the public for decades about the actual nature of their business. We want to continue holding the tobacco industry accountable for their actions, so we can prevent future generations from becoming addicted to their deadly products.”
In Minnesota, tobacco companies spend more than $115 million annually on advertising and marketing, much of it targeted to young people. As a result, tobacco use remains a persistent problem. Each year, tobacco use is responsible for the deaths of 6,312 Minnesotans. The annual cost of smoking in Minnesota is estimated to be over $7 billion: $3.19 billion in excess health care costs and $4.3 billion in lost productivity.
Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation supports policies that reduce youth smoking and help end the death and disease associated with tobacco use, including raising the tobacco age to 21, limiting youth access to menthol-, candy- and fruit-flavored tobacco, keeping tobacco prices high and funding tobacco control programs.