After years of lying to the U.S. about the dangers of cigarettes, tobacco companies must admit to the public in an advertising campaign saying they did in fact lie, a federal judge ruled Nov. 27

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler believed that the campaign would be a fitting redress of what she called the companies’ “past deception” dating as far back as 1964, according to The Chicago Tribune.

The advertisements will be published in various media over the next two years. The cost of the ads, and the places in which they will appear, have not been determined.

According to Time magazine, the statements come as part of a 1999 federal racketeering case. Kessler ruled in 2006 that the cigarette makers had deceived the public about the dangers of smoking.

The ads are to begin with the following statement:

“A federal court has ruled that the defendant tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public by falsely selling and advertising low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes.”

“Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day,” another statement reads.

“These statements do exactly what they should do. They’re clear, to the point, easy to
understand, no legalese, no scientific jargon, just the facts,” Ellen Vargyas, general counsel for the American Legacy Foundation, told the Tribune. The group is known for its “Truth” advertising campaign that began in 2000 and was credited with curbing youth smoking.

Citing concerns over infringement of their freedom of speech, the tobacco companies have fought against using words such as “deceived” in their statements.

Large cigarette companies in the United States spent $8.05 billion in 2010 to advertise and promote their products, according to a September report by the Federal Trade Commission.

In addition, tobacco companies are battling in court with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the placement of graphic warning labels on tobacco products, which cigarette makers believe violate their free speech rights.

Brittany Buchanan

Special to the AFRO