The ways of tobacco companies
For several decades, tobacco companies across the world vehemently denied and blatantly deceived and misled people about the dangers of smoking. That the American companies continued with their abhorrent acts of deception despite the U.S. Surgeon General warning 50 years ago that “cigarette smoking is a health hazard” is shocking. But the tide is turning, and these companies that continued with their ways are being brought to account. In a second major move, four American companies and the U.S. government recently reached an agreement on the “corrective statements” that the companies would advertise. Besides stating the facts about smoking, they would admit to deliberate deception, in advertisements that would be carried once a week in 35 newspapers and on TV five times a week for a year. These would also be carried on the companies’ websites for two years. If all goes well, the agreement would bring to an end a 15-year-old battle that started a year after the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement that forced the companies into paying the 46 States $206 billion over 25 years for treating smokers who fell sick. The 1998 agreement also placed several advertising and marketing restrictions. Despite the damning exposure and the severe restrictions, the companies have unabashedly continued to improvise strategies to build their customer base; every day they successfully lure over 3,000 U.S. children to try their first cigarette.