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Tobacco companies ordered to create ads warning of smoking dangers

Nov 29, 2012

Big Tobacco companies have been ordered to create advertisements and marketing campaigns that acknowledge the health risks associated with smoking cigarettes. 

This order was originally part of a ruling in response to a federal lawsuit claiming tobacco companies deceived the public for decades and hid information that showed smoking cigarettes and using tobacco was harmful to a person's health. The tobacco companies opposed the order but in 2006 their appeal of this particular part of the decision against them. This decision was separate from the record $206 billion lawsuit against the same tobacco companies which paid damages to victims of tobacco addiction and for other public information programs.

The campaign must include specific notices on the dangers of smoking and will be included in just about any place where a tobacco company reaches consumers. Messages will be placed on product Web sites. Information will be included with products sold at retail stores, like in packs of cigarettes, that highlight the potential risks of smoking or using tobacco. The companies must also create print ads and inserts to be included in publications as well as television and radio ads with similar messages. 

Specifically, the Big Tobacco companies must state some of the following in their ads and other notices, according to a report: 

- "Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day."

- "More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined."

- "Secondhand smoke kills over 3,000 Americans each year."

A spokesperson for Philip Morris, makers of some of the most popular brands of cigarettes, told CNN they were reviewing the contents of the federal decision handed down this week announcing the rules for these required campaigns. A judge has already rejected a claim that Big Tobacco's First Amendment rights were being suppressed because they were being forced to use the canned statements in their materials.

The multi-billion dollar lawsuit settlement also announced at the time this lawsuit was being filed has required tobacco companies to create other public notice campaigns that call attention specifically to the dangers of smoking, many of the very same effects tobacco companies denied for decades existed, including claims that smoking cigarettes or using other forms of tobacco led to various forms of cancer, breathing problems, or that it was addictive. 

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