Tobacco Warnings Move Online

Tobacco companies are going to have to start posting "corrective statements" on their Web sites and in any social media campaigns promoting cigarettes, as well as on the packs themselves. T

hat is after the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia entered a consent order requiring them as part of the 2006 permanent injunction against Altria, its Philip Morris USA subsidiary, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco.Per the settlement, they have already been airing the statements on TV (five times a week for a year, paid for by the tobacco companies) as of last November, so now that notification requirement has been extended to digital media.

Related: Anti-Tobacco Ads Return to TV

The statements, which do not mince words, include:

"Smoking cigarettes causes numerous diseases and on average 1,200 American deaths every day."

Nicotine in cigarettes is highly addictive and that cigarettes have been designed to create and sustain addiction."

"So-called light, low-tar, and natural cigarettes are just as harmful as regular cigarettes.

"Secondhand smoke causes disease and death in people who do not smoke."

According to that 2006 settlement, the tobacco companies now being forced to post the no-punches-pulled disclosures, were guilty of "fraudulently distorting and minimizing the health effects of smoking; falsely denying and minimizing the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine; Designing cigarettes to create addiction; fraudulently presenting light/low-tar cigarettes as less dangerous; falsely denying marketing to youth; and falsely denying the hazards of secondhand smoke."

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.