You are here

John Woods: Tobacco Industry Guilty of Lying to Public, Must Issue Corrective Statements

In 2006, tobacco companies were found guilty of breaking civil racketeering laws, lying to the public about the dangers of smoking and marketing to children. After 11 years of litigation, the companies are now forced to take action and admit their guilt in national media and on cigarette packaging.

For the first time since the 1960’s tobacco companies will be airing television ads on November 26 – to admit to the American public that they lied, deceived and failed to disclose the health hazards of cigarettes and the addictiveness of nicotine. These ads will appear in national newspapers, and on national television stations once a week for a year. In Oklahoma, the ads will appear in the Black Chronicle, per the judge’s order.

Corrective statements published by the tobacco industry also have to address the adverse health effects of smoking, the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine, the lack of significant health benefit from switching to low tar, light or ultra-light cigarettes, the manipulation of cigarette design to increase nicotine levels delivered to smokers, and the adverse health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke, which kills 50,000 nonsmokers every year in the U.S. and has over 70 cancer-causing chemicals.

In Oklahoma, smoking kills more than 7,500 adults annually and leaves thousands suffering with chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. That means the families of 7,500 Oklahomans are without their loved one because of tobacco.

The dangers of smoking go beyond just the smoker. Children who grow up in households with smokers are more likely to pick up the habit In Oklahoma, tobacco companies spend $169 million yearly to market cigarettes and other tobacco products to young adults. Not surprisingly, nine out of 10 tobacco users start before the age of 18. These corrective statements will make a huge difference to millions of Americans who have been lied to for decades through deceitful marketing campaigns by the tobacco industry.

Big Tobacco sees children as “replacement smokers” to replace the people who die from smoking-related diseases. They know their products kill an average of 1,200 Americans every single day and they have to perpetuate the cycle of addiction in order to support their business model. Youth smokers are more likely to develop severe levels of nicotine addiction compared to adults, which leads to continued tobacco use as they grow older.

We know our kids face pressure to smoke and through TSET’s Tobacco Stops with Me Stop the Start messaging, we are countering tobacco industry tactics and misinformation. We have worked to educate Oklahomans about the negative impact of tobacco for nearly a decade and we will continue to work to prevent youth tobacco use every single day.