Court-ordered ‘corrective statements’ to appear on cigarette boxes

(CNN) Cigarette boxes sold across the United States soon will display a new court-ordered accessory.

Starting Wednesday, tobacco brands have been ordered to put “corrective statements” on product packaging that clearly state the harmful health effects of smoking, according to court documents.
It comes as a result of a 1999 lawsuit that the US Department of Justice filed against the country’s largest cigarette manufacturers and tobacco trade organizations, claiming civil fraud and racketeering violations over the course of more than 50 years.
In 2006, federal Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the tobacco industry had violated civil racketeering laws and ordered companies to issue “corrective statements” on their packaging, on company websites, and in print and television ads.
Last year, as part of the court order, tobacco companies launched “corrective statement” ads across prime-time television and in newspapers, detailing smoking’s harms. Under court order, the ads were paid for by the tobacco companies Philip Morris USA, Lorillard, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Altria Group.
Now, the statements will appear directly on cigarette packaging.
“Corrective statements are essentially geared towards preventing and restraining future harm,” said Mary Rouvelas, senior counsel for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, which — along with the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund, the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights — was involved in the case to ensure that public health interests were presented to the court.
“Once they start shipping, they will appear in the retailers between two days and two weeks after, depending on how much volume that retailer goes through,” she said.
A court document with a mockup of the statements shows them stating, “A Federal Court has ordered R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Philip Morris USA, Altria, and Lorillard to make this statement about the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine.”
The statements go on to note that smoking is highly addictive, that it’s not easy to quit, that nicotine actually changes the brain and that all cigarettes can cause cancer, lung disease and heart attacks, among other health implications.
Tobacco advertisers often used the depiction of an ear, nose and throat doctor to promote cigarettes. "People in those days didn't know about lung cancer, but they knew that it was rough on your throat," said Dr. Robert Jackler, founder of the <a href="http://tobacco.stanford.edu/tobacco_main/index.php" target="_blank">research group SRITA, or Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising</a>, which documents the history of tobacco advertising. "They knew smoking irritates and makes you cough and gag. So having a throat doctor tell you it's OK to smoke was key to success in tobacco advertising and sales."
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