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Tobacco Industry Paying the Piper with Corrective Ads

Smoking is attributed to an estimated 2,500 deaths in Nebraska each year. (geralt/Pixabay)
Smoking is attributed to an estimated 2,500 deaths in Nebraska each year. (geralt/Pixabay)
November 27, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. – Big tobacco is coming clean about the dangers of smoking, and Nebraska health advocates are celebrating.

The tobacco industry began running corrective advertisements on Sunday as a result of a 2006 judgment for lying about the negative effects of smoking, and for marketing its products to children.

Brian Ortner, director of communications for the American Cancer Society in Nebraska, says the ads will clearly state that the industry designed its products to be more addictive while knowing there were deadly health effects.

"Having this come out is definitely a win,” he states. “And it's a big statement, too, because it's showing that tobacco is a major contributor to cancer.

“Now, the big tobacco companies are putting the words out there that, 'Yes, we do understand that does happen now with our product.'"

The lawsuit began in 1999, and Ortner says it's taken years of stalling and appeals since the 2006 ruling for the tobacco industry to finally correct the public record.

Some anti-tobacco groups are concerned that, because the ads are only in newspapers and on television, young people, who typically consume media online and whom big tobacco is said to target as the next generation of smokers, won't hear the message.

Nebraska’s adult smoking rate of 17 percent is higher than the national average, and it's estimated that more than 2,500 deaths in the state are attributed to smoking each year.

Ortner says the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network will continue its efforts to reduce tobacco use.

"You look at the successes in the last few years with smoke-free workplaces, and many other things even here in Nebraska that have happened,” he states. “Different establishments that are now smoke-free. University campuses that are smoke-free.

“Those are all efforts that ACS-CAN has been a part of on a state and national level to bring into play."

According to federal data, tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death and disease, claiming the lives of more than 480,000 Americans each year.

The American Cancer Society was among the public health groups that reached the settlement last month with the tobacco companies and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE