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Should Tobacco Companies Have to Admit They Deceived the People in Ads?

Is the publishing of "truth" ads by the tobacco companies a wise use of funding? Could it not be better used another way?

This week tobacco companies were ordered by a federal judge to publish corrective statements admitting they lied about the dangers of smoking. The companies reportedly have to disclose the true dangers of smoking, including that it kills on average 1,200 people a day.

In a story in Time, it was reported that these statements have to be done in the form of ads that also say the tobacco companies, “deliberately deceived the American public about the health effects of smoking.” Other ads have to include statements that smoking kills more people than murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes and alcohol combined and that “secondhand smoke kills over 3,000 Americans a year.”

So is this a fair punishment for the tobacco companies for deceiving the American people for all those years? Also, do you think this it a wise use of the funding or could that money be better spent another way?

Watts November 29, 2012 at 09:45 PM
I don't think that the punishment is what we see on the surface of a public admission, as much as that having these companies make such a public statement of intentional wrongdoing leaves them more exposed for civil lawsuits that will not be defendable by the major tobacco companies with such public admissions on record.
David Binder November 30, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Why just the tobacco industry ? There have been a lot of products advertised over the years that have been less than truthful. Yes I know tobacco is bad. After 40+ years of smoking I have the symptoms to show for it. But there are a lot of food & drink products that are unhealthy as well. Toys that are dangerous. Home products that pollute our air. I think the tobacco industry is being singled out.
Tammy Osier November 30, 2012 at 01:44 AM
I remember back in the 60's they had to put the disclaimer on the side of the pack, Warning: Smoking may be hazardous to your health. I think later on they had to put a bit more information. I don't see the culpability. I've been quit for twenty years, but for every cigarette I smoked, I knew it was bad for my health. You'd have to be living on an island to not have gotten that information. Somebody's looking for some easy money. A federal judge??? The federal government seem to be in everybody's business these days.
Sharon Swanepoel November 30, 2012 at 01:52 AM
I love this idea. I'd like to see it expanded to include politicians who tell voters "less than the truth." If they knew they would be forced to pay for ad space confessing they were not truthful if they don't follow through on some of those campaign promises, maybe they would be less inclined to make promises they know they won't be able to keep.
Tammy Osier November 30, 2012 at 01:58 AM
I'm with you Sharon on expanding that to every entity, not just the smoking industry. That would be great for politicians! Sort of like a polygraph to work for the public policy - lol.
Rex Smithers November 30, 2012 at 02:20 AM
David Smokes everybody. Thank you David for higher heath care costs.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew November 30, 2012 at 03:49 AM
"politicians who tell voters "less than the truth." If they knew they would be forced to pay for ad space" Here's reason #57 of the 537 for extending "QE Forever" well... forever ... The asset liquidity crisis that would develop as a indirect result of this policy would cripple world finance without more injected cash...
Mr. B November 30, 2012 at 12:48 PM
"forced to pay for ad space" Spoken like a true capitalist blog employee.
Karsten Torch November 30, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Cuz yeah, that's the problem. People just don't know that smoking is bad for you. Wow, this is insane. We have warnings on the packs, there's PSAs out constantly about how bad smoking is, we've banned smoking from almost everywhere at this point, and some idiot thinks that by mandating the tobacco companies have to advertise that smoking is bad that people will quit? Sorry, but this has to be one of the dumbest ideas I've heard in a while. And a corporate entity not telling the whole truth really isn't quite the same as lying. We don't expect car companies to release ads that say something to the effect of "Driving head first into solid objects may be hazardous to your health." What happens when we learn that cell phones are giving everybody brain cancer? Or quickening or even causing Alzeihmers? Are we going to force the phone companies to take out mulit-million dollar ads? I would think that we all should probably know. I, for one, won't be overly surprised. But then, I feel like I should be expected to be intelligent enough to think for myself and live with the consequences, unless I'm actually purposely mislead, which I don't think was the case here....at least not for the last 25 years or so...
Rosie Bretthauer-Mueller November 30, 2012 at 05:50 PM
This not a case about whether individuals know or should have known the health dangers. This is a case of profiteers abusing the free market by manipulating a product to be more addictive in order to guarantee future and ongoing sales, and abusing the protections of fee speech by deliberately lying and spreading false information. Free speech does not give us the right to yell fire in a theater when there isn't one. Seventy-five cents of every health care dollar spent in this country is spent on managing chronic diseases, like cancer and heart disease -- two diseases that stem from smoking. The individual who smoked is held accountable as they face the life-limiting and life-threatening diseases caused by their behavior. The manipulation and abuses of this one industry have a direct impact on the individual who smoked as well as the crises we all face through growing health care costs, and it is right to hold them accountable for the devastation that results.
Karsten Torch November 30, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I've looked, and I haven't really seen any outright lies and misinformation they've spread. Yes, the costs associated with it are too high, and probably should be addressed, but I'm not sure in what manner. Here's my problem with this scenario - the tobacco companies are producing exactly what they're supposed to be. It's not like their product is defective. Kind of like taking gun companies to court because their products funtion as designed. It just doesn't make sense to me. We're also seeing much the same problem out of soft drinks, albeit on a smaller scale. Very easy to attribute the increases in obesity to sodas. Plus, they add caffeine so that people will become addicted to them. So I guess we should me Coke take out ads touting the bad health effects of their product?
Rosie Bretthauer-Mueller December 01, 2012 at 12:01 AM
http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/ Learn more about the deception of the tobacco industry here.
Tammy Osier December 01, 2012 at 12:52 AM
karsten, when coke first came out, it actually had cocaine in it. NO regulations back then - lol
Rosie Bretthauer-Mueller December 01, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Maybe Coke should have to admit that high fructose corn syrup is not happiness but is damaging to the body http://www.foodpolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/HFCS_Rats_10.pdf
Mr. B December 01, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Chemically structured, high fructose corn syrup and sugar are equal. Even a dumbass Republican knows if you eat too much sugar, you will gain weight. So, what's your point? If you don't like Coke, don't drink it. If you don't want to gain weight from drinking Coke, don't drink a case a day without getting off the sofa. BTW, people are not rats. The studies don't correlate. Remember Saccharine? The studies that showed it caused cancer in rats would have required a person to use 800 times their body weight annually to get cancer.
Rosie Bretthauer-Mueller December 01, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Chemically they are identical, but there is growing evidence the body process HFCS differently as the fructose goes straight to the liver to be metabolized. My point is that industries need to be accountable for the products they bring to market in the same way that consumers are accountable for their choices in the marketplace. http://diabetes.webmd.com/news/20121127/high-fructose-corn-syrup-diabetes http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2695593 http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/ http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100322204628.htm http://www.metabolismjournal.com/article/S0026-0495(11)00315-5/abstract

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