Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fantasies die hard

Since 1999 there has been a case winding its way through our nations courts, like a tortoise carrying scores of lawyers on its back. It is about making tobacco companies liable for the damage their products inflict. Now, the federal judge hearing the case has ordered the companies to admit that they have been lying to people all these years about the health hazards of smoking. Some of the corrective actions include the companies having to admit in their ads and packaging that “Tobacco companies intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive.” Another says: “All cigarettes cause cancer, lung disease, heart attacks, and premature death.” The judge says the corrective actions are "directed at preventing and restraining the defendants from deceiving the American public in the future.”

Each of the five categories of statements begins with a similar introduction stating that “a federal court has ruled that the defendant tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public” then says “here is the truth” before going into specifics on the dangers of smoking, health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke, the addictiveness of nicotine and the manipulation of cigarette design and composition.

One statement among those on adverse health effects reads: “More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined.”

Judge Kessler previously ordered the companies to stop marketing cigarettes as “light” and “low-tar” and to make statements about the health effects of smoking in newspapers and magazines and on materials attached to cigarette packages.

People will still believe that they are the exceptions. Yes, cigarettes will kill you, but not me. The most popular brand where I work is Marlboro Light. The package no longer says "Light," but that is still how customers refer to it. Fantasies die hard.

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