Altria, Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard are preparing a full-page mea culpa to run in the Sunday editions of the US’ ‘top’ 35 newspapers, as online notices for those papers’ websites and as prime-time television spots to run for a full year on CBS, ABC, and NBC, according to a story by Clara Ritger for the National Journal.
The tobacco companies are required also to run statements on their websites and cigarette packages.
This act of ‘self-flagellation’, as Ritger described it, stems from a 2006 federal court decision ordering the tobacco companies to correct the record on statements they made about the health effects of smoking.
On Friday, the companies’ lawyers and the Justice Department struck a deal on how they will issue the apology.
A mock-up of a notice that could publish as a full-page in The New York Times reads, ‘A Federal Court has ruled that Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Altria deliberately deceived the American public about designing cigarettes to enhance the delivery of nicotine and has ordered those companies to make this statement’.
It goes on to say that the industry ‘intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive’, and that nicotine ‘changes the brain’, making it harder for smokers to quit their habit.
The tobacco companies could appeal against the language of the notices. But first, US District Judge, Gladys Kessler, is scheduled to review the agreement about how to issue the corrective statements on January 22.
The Justice Department first brought the case against the tobacco industry in 1999, arguing that tobacco manufacturers knowingly and intentionally misinformed the public about the negative health consequences of smoking.
According to Ritger, the statements would ‘correct misinformation’ about ‘the health effects of smoking, the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine, the false advertising of low-tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes, the designing of cigarettes to enhance the delivery of nicotine and the health effects of second-hand smoke’.