Tobacco companies don't sell tobacco, they sell something much worse

The next time you come across a cigarette commercial, it might go something like this…

“A federal court is requiring tobacco companies to tell the truth about cigarette smoking. Here’s the truth: Smoking kills 1,200 Americans. Every day.”

That’s a shocking and tragic statistic. But what’s really surprising is that tobacco companies may be required to put that comment in their advertising.

In 2006, a federal judge decided that the tobacco industry purposely hid the grave health dangers linked to cigarette smoking. The judge also ordered the industry to pay for advertising that would contain revealing comments about the findings in the case.

So the Justice Department got to work and finally came up with several “corrective statements” which were released last week.

One of the statements is that statistic about 1,200 deaths per day.

Here’s another: “We falsely marketed low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes to keep people smoking and sustain our profits.”

All this is too much for the tobacco industry. In response, an industry spokesperson complained that the statements are “designed solely to shame and humiliate” the companies.

Hmmm–that seems pretty thin-skinned for a multi-billion dollar industry.

The statements were designed to inform and horrify consumers. But shame and humiliation for tobacco companies? That’s just frosting on the cake!

If tobacco bigwigs want to avoid public humiliation, they should choose a profession where they don’t purposely draw young people into a dreadful addiction.

Is that a bit harsh? Not according to this corrective statement…

“For decades, we denied that we controlled the level of nicotine delivered in cigarettes. Here’s the truth: We control nicotine delivery to create and sustain smokers’ addiction, because that’s how we keep customers coming back.”

They said it themselves: They don’t sell tobacco, they sell addiction.

“Tobacco cos. fire back on gov’t-proposed ads” Michael Felberbaum, Associated Press, 3/3/11,

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