Why Tobacco Companies Pay for Anti-tobacco Ads
You probably have noticed over the past few months to a year there have been a number of anti-smoking ads on television and newspapers. You may think these ads are funded by anti-smoking and special interest groups. You may also think these ads are hurting the tobacco industry. If so, you would be mostly correct, but here’s a twist you probably didn’t see coming - major tobacco companies are actually helping to sponsor these ads. And here’s why.
In 1999, the Justice Department brought a lawsuit against cigarette makers to punish them for negligence for not truthfully disclosing to the public the dangers of their products. In 2006 ruling, the companies were ordered to spread the truth about the health risks and addictive nature of nicotine and smoking. But, the companies had resisted until late 2017 via appeals and haggling over verbiage of the order. The ruling affects tobacco conglomerates like Altria Group (which owns Philip Morris USA), R.J. Reynolds (which is part of British American Tobacco along with Lorillard).
The “truthful” statements are meant to be advertised in places where tobacco companies ordinarily promoted false smoking and health messages. In addition to televised and newspaper ads, the messages will also appear on cigarette packages themselves as well as on the the company’s websites.
What This Means for Vaping
With vaping becoming more and more popular, either replacing smoking or used in tandem with it in order to curb smoking habits, tobacco companies have seen a decrease in smokers, especially among young adults. Although many e-liquids contain nicotine (which is addictive), they do not contain the toxins and harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. So far, there has been no indication of long-term effects from vaping, mostly due to its relevant infancy to the public.
Altria recently acquired a 35% stake in Juul (based in San Francisco, California, USA) for close to $13 billion in a move to bridge the gap between smokers and vapers. The deal could put Juul in front of an audience it may never have had without it. Altria also has lobbying power in Washington, which could prove beneficial to Juul as they are now starting to be targeted by the federal government due to fear that flavored vape products may appeal to younger vapers.