Admit It, Judge Tells Tobacco Companies: You Lied

No butts about it.

A federal judge in Washington, DC, is ordering three huge tobacco companies to run ads admitting that they’ve lied to the American public for years about the dangers of smoking.

It’s not clear when those ads will start running, because the tobacco companies might appeal the ruling.

But on Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler spelled out what the tobacco companies will have to say in those ads, if her ruling stands.

“Smoking kills, on average, 1,2000 Americans.  Every day,” one add would say.

“All cigarettes cause cancer, lung disease, heart attacks and premature death,” another one would say.  “There is no safe cigarette.”

And yet another would say, “Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, severe asthma and reduced lung function.”

(In other words, you’re less able to breathe and more likely to die.)

According to Judge Kessler, the tobacco companies — Philip Morris USA, Reynolds American and Lorillard — have been running deceptive ads for approximately half-a-century.

Those ads were designed to make smoking look safe, glamorous and cool — instead of potentially deadly.

“This court made a number of explicit findings that the tobacco companies perpetuated fraud and deceived the public regarding the addictiveness of cigarettes and nicotine,” she said, according to the Associated Press (AP).

(According to scientists, nicotine is the substance in tobacco that makes it nearly impossible to quit smoking once you’ve started.)

What does all that mean in plain English?

Basically, she told the companies they’ve been lying to the rest of us for years — on purpose.

And now, they have to take their punishment.

According to AP reporter Frederic Frommer, the tobacco companies have been fighting Kessler over those ads for years.

They even called them “false public confessions” that are designed only to “shame and humiliate.”

Anti-smoking activists say otherwise.

And they’re applauding Judge Kessler’s ruling.

“Requiring the tobacco companies to finally tell the truth is a small price to pay for the devastating consequences of their wrongdoing,” said Matthew Myers, the president of a group called the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in an interview with Reuters news service.

“These statements do exactly what they’re supposed to do,” added Ellen Vargyas, a lawyer with a group called the American Legacy Foundation, in another interview with Reuters.  “They’re clear, to the point (and) easy to understand — no legalese, no scientific jargon.  Just the facts.”