(Anti) Tobacco Ads Return to TV

TV outlets will be getting some major cigarette advertising dollars once again. This time to warn smokers about the clear and present dangers of lighting up.

The ads will begin appearing in TV markets across the country, paid for by the cigarette manufacturers, and must air for a year.

That follows a nine-month civil racketeering trial in the U.S. District Court finally issue the no-punches-pulled statements as part of a permanent injunction dating back to 2006, designed to prevent further deception, said Justice, which pointed out that multiple appeals by the companies is what delayed implementation until now.

The statements include:

Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day.

More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined.

Smoking causes heart disease, emphysema, acute myeloid leukemia, and cancer of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, lung, stomach, kidney, bladder, and pancreas.

Altria, RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Philip Morris USA intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive.

TV ads came off network and local TV back in January 1971, when Congress passed a law banning them.

George Washington University Law School professor John Banzhaf, who played a dual role in the mandate to air and publish the corrective ads, was pleased that the cigarette companies were finally being required to provide some truth in advertising.

He successfully sued to get the cigarette ads off the air in the first place, then helped establish the precedent of settlements that included mandating corrective ads like the ones the D.C. court has required.

"It's very satisfying, at a time when so many people criticize law professors for teaching only theory and not practice, and for doing little more than writing increasingly useless and irrelevant law review articles, to be able to point to important public health accomplishments for their efforts in the real world, victories expected to save lives by helping to persuade youngsters not to take up smoking," Banzhaf said of the news ads.

(Photo via Mark Morgan's Flickr. Photo was taken September 17, 2013. Photo attributed using Creative Commons License 2.0. Photo was cropped to fit 16x9 aspect ratio)

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.