Big Tobacco advertising on television by court order

Author: CBS News
Photo courtesy of CBS News

NEW YORK, CBS Women were the targets of the last cigarette ad on American television. Now, Big Tobacco is advertising on TV again — this time, by court order.

Tobacco companies once claimed their smokes not only tasted great, but were actually good for you. It said it right there: “against irritation, against cough.”

Everybody seemed to agree.

“What cigarette do you smoke, Doctor? Once again, the brand named most was Camel,” one Camel ad said.

Even Santa shilled for the industry.

“Give Camels, the nation’s favorite cigarette. Ho, ho, ho,” Santa said.

Industry executives swore they weren’t trying to hook anyone. But a 1999 federal lawsuit finally made Big Tobacco cough up the truth. And so for the next year, in papers and on TV, you’ll be seeing an ad that says: “Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans every day.”

Or this: “Smoking is highly addictive. Nicotine is the addictive drug in tobacco.”

They are among many corrective statements a federal judge ordered the tobacco companies to make for years of deceptive advertising. The order was issued in 2006 and the industry fought it all the way.

“Do they ever say, ‘mea culpa’?” CBS News asked.

“No,” said Sherry Emery, a research scientist who worries that relying on newspapers or TV to carry the message will miss the next generation of potential smokers.

“There’s not many young people that watch prime-time television or read an actual newspaper, and the tobacco industry knows that too,” Emery said.

These corrective statements will cost the tobacco industry some $30 million — a rather inconsequential amount for an industry that spends about $8 billion a year on marketing its product.

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