Ads paid by tobacco companies say their products are deadly and were manipulated to be more addictive.
Children without tobacco
Tobacco Free Kids
Ads paid for by tobacco companies say their products are deadly and were manipulated to be more addictive.
Children without tobacco
If you read a newspaper on Sundays, there's a good chance you'll find a full-page ad that warns about the dangers of smoking.
Messages with black text on a blank page tell readers that cigarettes kill 1,200 Americans every day. The same messages begin to air on Monday night in primetime television.
The ads have been in development for more than a decade. They are the result of a 2006 court ruling in a lawsuit filed by the federal government that found that cigarette manufacturers deliberately misled the public about the dangers of smoking. And the tobacco companies and the tobacco advocates fought for every word.
But public health experts say they may not be as effective.
"If the intention was that these advertisements would have some dampening effect on the onset of smoking," or simply continue smoking, I would say it will not work, "says Nora Rifon, a professor of consumer psychology at Michigan State University.
The ads are quite strange.
Those that are published in newspapers in print and online, black text on a white background, are known as "waste" advertising because of that simple design, says Rifon. 19659014] On television, viewers hear a disembodied voice that sounds as if its computer has been generated or manipulated, beginning by announcing that four major tobacco companies are behind the messages.
"A federal court has ordered Altria, RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard and Philip Morris USA make this statement about the effects of smoking on health. "
Then the bad news begins to flow.
" F Umar causes heart disease, emphysema, acute myeloid leukemia and cancer of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, lung, stomach, kidney, bladder and pancreas. "
That's just one part of one of the five ads. The others warn about the dangers of second-hand smoke and inform viewers and readers that light and low-tar cigarettes are just as dangerous as regular cigarettes.
Along with the health warnings, there is an admission.
"Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and maintain addiction."
Cigarette companies were ordered to publish the ads in 2006 when US District Judge Gladys Kessler discovered that they had conspired to hide the risks of smoking.
In his ruling he said that the cigarette industry "benefits by selling a highly addictive product that causes diseases that lead to an astonishing number of deaths per year, an immeasurable amount of human suffering and economic loss and a profound burden on our system national health ".  The companies appealed the writing of the ads several times until the language was finalized earlier this year, according to Matthew Myers, president of The Campaign for Tobacco Free Ki. ds.
The final wording "is in fact the result of literally hundreds of hours of negotiation with the Department of Justice and the Campaign and other public health groups arguing that the statements are clear, precise and sufficiently detailed to have an impact when I hear them, "says Myers.
His group was one of the plaintiffs, along with the Department of Justice, in the 1999 lawsuit against the tobacco companies.
The content of the ads, which companies and courts call "corrective statements," may seem like old news to many people, but Myers says they have some information that may surprise the public
"Very few people know that the court found that the tobacco industry intentionally manipulates cigarettes to make them more addictive, "he says.
That's probably the message with the greatest impact, says Kenneth Warner, professor emeritus of public health at the University of Michigan.
"That can be surprising to smoke rs and it can be very irritating for them," he says.
Messages also serve as a confession of tobacco companies, he says.
"They know what they've been doing for decades," says Warner. "They know they've been killing their customers and they know they've been trying to add their customers and keep them addicted."
But he says the fleshless messages, with the disembodied voice, white screen and simple letters, seems designed specifically to be ignored.
"As an advertising design, this is very weak," he says. "This is designed not to convey the message because there are no images badociated with it."
To a live spokesperson, perhaps even an executive of a tobacco company, reading the words, would have been more effective, he says.
The tobacco companies refused to provide a spokesperson to be interviewed for this story. But in written statements, Altria, owner of Philip Morris, and Reynolds American, owner of R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard bought in 2015 and merged the two companies, say the industry has changed and is now better regulated and more responsible.
"We are focused on the future," said Altria executive VP Murray Garnick in the statement. The company, he says, is "working to develop less risky tobacco products."
The company says the number of teenagers who smoke has fallen to historic lows. that matches the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that number does not include the large increase in teens who use other nicotine delivery systems, such as vaping.
Rifon says that the decade-long struggle between companies over new ads has worked to make them almost insignificant.
the tobacco industry got what it wanted by negotiating and losing all this time because they knew that the longer they waited, the more likely it was that what they had to do would not be important. "