Saturday, December 8, 2012

Tobacco Cos.: We do help these things kill you

Pause a moment to mentally congratulate Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia:  Her 13-year-long slog presiding over United States v. Philip Morris et al., No. 99-2496, is coming to an end. And it is ending in pretty spectacular fashion.
On Nov. 27 she ordered all the big tobacco companies to begin publishing "corrective statements" in newspapers, on TV, on the Internet, in magazines and on their cigarette packs to correct the lies they have been telling cigarette consumers for decades and decades. 
The statements will say not just that cigarettes kill more than 400,000 American smokers and ex-smokers every year, not just that secondhand smoke kills 3,000 Americans a year, not just that there is no such thing as a safe cigarette ...
Judge Gladys Kessler
The statements will say tobacco companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction to make it very hard for you to quit and then lied to you about just how addictive they are.
Judge Kessler has approved the exact wording of the statements and the tobacco companies cannot change the wording, no matter how embarrassed, chagrined or pissed-off their corporate executive may be.
They lost their last argument in the Nov. 27 ruling, that the statements violated their rights of free speech.
Au Contraire, the judge said.  Commercial speech does not enjoy the protections that political speech enjoys.

"There is no reason to believe that issuing these corrective statements would place any burden on defendants' speech other than the desired one, namely preventing defendants from denying the accuracy of them," she said.
Here are the corrective statements that the tobacco companies have to publish, in full and verbatim, straight from the opinion. Look for the statements to start appearing in four or five months. (Ignore any links in the following.  I didn't put them in and can't figure out how to get them out.)
The preamble:
 "A Federal Court has ruled that the Defendant tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public about the health effects of smoking, and has ordered those companies to make this statement.  Here is the truth:" 
A. Adverse Health Effects of Smoking
·         Smoking kills, on average, 1200 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.
·         Smoking also causes reduced fertility, low birth weight in newborns, and cancer of the cervix and uterus. 
B. Addictiveness of Smoking and Nicotine
·         Smoking is highly addictive.  Nicotine is the addictive drug in tobacco.
·         Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction.
·         It's not easy to quit.
·         When you smoke, the nicotine actually changes the brain-that's why quitting is so hard.
 C. Lack of Significant Health Benefit from Smoking “Low Tar,” “Light,” “Ultra Light,” “Mild,” and “Natural” Cigarettes
·         Many smokers switch to low tar and light cigarettes rather than quitting because they think low tar and light cigarettes are less harmful.  They are not.
·         "Low tar” and filtered cigarette smokers inhale essentially the same amount of tar and nicotine as they would from regular cigarettes.
·         All cigarettes cause cancer, lung disease,heart attacks, and premature death -- lights, low tar, ultra lights, and naturals.  There is no safe cigarette.
 D. Manipulation of Cigarette Design and Composition to Ensure Optimum Nicotine Delivery
      ·          Defendant tobacco companies intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive.
·         Cigarette companies control the impact and delivery of nicotine in many ways, including designing filters and selecting cigarette paper to maximize the ingestion of nicotine, adding ammonia to make the cigarette taste less harsh, and controlling the physical and chemical make-up of the tobacco blend.
      ·         When you smoke, the nicotine actually changes the brain-that's why quitting is so hard.
 E. Adverse Health Effects of Exposure to Secondhand Smoke
      ·         Secondhand smoke kills over 3,000 Americans each year.
·         Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and coronary heart disease in adults who do not smoke.
·         Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, severeasthma, and reduced lung function.
·         There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

I don't know if all this will do any good, but at least, the tobacco companies are finally being forced to stop lying.  I can't wait for their new advertising campaigns. 

1 comment:

  1. Jodine,
    I agree that the cigarette companies have been hit bigtime with this, but do you really think anybody other than an anti-smoking advocate is going to take the time to read this? Especially the way it's presented. I looks like those agreements everybody just clicks "agree" on when you download something. But like you say, at least the companies are finally being forced to stop lying. -Rob