British American Tobacco and Altria Group Inc of Big Tobacco will begin running several self-critical TV and newspaper ads as mandated by the court. This is part of a lawsuit settlement with the US Justice Department over the release of misleading statements, which began nearly two decades ago.
Twenty years ago, the DOJ said that the statements of Big Tobacco regarding cigarettes and the health effects that they have were deceptive. The firms that were involved are now being forced to spend several million dollars to purchase 30 to 45-second ads. The ads will run on TV five times a week during prime time programs.
Contrary to what’s expected by the public, the ads won't contain graphic representations on the negative effects of cigarettes like how anti-smoking spots do.
Instead, they will look like the disclosure statements that pharmaceutical companies add at the end of an advertisement. The TV ads that will run next year will have simple texts with voice-over narration.
Altria estimated that it will spend more than $30 million for the ad spots. The campaign won't just be on TV but also on company-owned websites and on local newspapers. All the defendants of the original lawsuit filed back in 1999, now belong to either British American Tobacco or Altria.
Tobacco companies were prohibited to run ads and campaigns for all of their products on billboards and on television. Legal settlements from lawsuits that are related to tobacco have funded $1 billion for anti-smoking campaigns.
On Monday, Altria said that the tobacco companies involved had reached a decision with the DOJ regarding the ads' timing. Documents were filed during the same day in the US District Court.
The general counsel and executive vice president of Altria, Murray R. Garnick, released a statement and said that the industry had a dramatic change over the years. This includes the regulation set by the FDA, which Altria supported.
"We have diverted our focus to the future and we are working on developing tobacco products that are less risky," said Garnick.
The corrective statements that will be aired will cover broad topics including:
-How addictive nicotine and smoking are
-Smoking's adverse health effects
-The health effects of secondhand smoke exposure
-Lack of health benefit from choosing to smoke "light" or "low-tar" cigarettes
-The manipulation of the design and composition of cigarettes for optimum nicotine delivery
On TV, the corrective statements will run for 52 weeks. Expect to see them on all major television networks. The companies will also pay 45 newspaper publications for full-page ads that will be continually printed for six whole months.
In 2006, Gladys Kessler, a US District Judge, ordered tobacco companies to publish corrective statements after a civil trial where the DOJ accused the cigarette makers of hiding the true effects and the dangers of cigarettes and smoking.
The lawsuit sought almost $300 billion as the government claimed that they can be considered as ill-gotten profits. A federal court threw the monetary claims out.