Cigarette companies balking at Justice Dept’s request for “confessional” advertising that they say goes too far

Calling them “forced public confessions,” America’s largest tobacco companies are asking a federal judge to reject the government’s proposed corrective statements for cigarette advertising. Fred Frommer reports for the Associated Press that the Justice Department has responded by saying that such statements need to be strong enough to protect people from future false declarations made by cigarette makers. The statements that the tobacco industry views as “going too far” include admissions that the companies lied about the dangers of smoking, the addictiveness of nicotine, the lack of health benefits for “low-tar” and “light” cigarettes and the negative effect of second-hand smoke.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler, who is hearing the case, has already said “she wants the industry to pay for corrective statements in various types of ads,” writes Frommer. (Associated Press photo)

Judge Kessler ruled in 2006 that America’s largest cigarette makers had systematically concealed the dangers of smoking for decades and that, as assurance that the crime was not repeated, such statements as a requirement in tobacco advertising would be appropriate. An example of an advertising statement under consideration, as suggested by the Justice Dept.: “For decades, we denied that we controlled the level of nicotine delivered in cigarettes. Here’s the truth: Cigarettes are a finely tuned nicotine delivery device designed to addict people.” At Monday’s hearing, Kessler said she doesn’t have to take the government’s
proposed statements word-for-word, and will come up with
“modifications.” (Read more)

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