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Tobacco ads must admit to lies

| Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 8:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday ordered tobacco companies to publish corrective statements admitting they lied about the dangers of smoking and to disclose smoking's health effects, including the deaths of about 1,200 daily.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler had said she wanted the industry to pay for corrective statements in various types of advertisements. For the first time, she laid out what the statements will say.

Each corrective ad must be prefaced by a statement that a federal court has concluded that the defendant tobacco companies “deliberately deceived the American public about the health effects of smoking.”

Among the required statements are that smoking kills more people than murders, AIDS, suicides, drugs, car crashes and alcohol combined. Ads must also include that “second-hand smoke kills over 3,000 Americans a year.”

The corrective statements are part of a case the government brought in 1999 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. Kessler ruled in that case in 2006 that the nation's largest cigarette makers concealed the dangers of smoking for decades and said she wanted the industry to pay for “corrective statements” in various types of ads, both broadcast and print.

The Justice Department proposed corrective statements, which Kessler used as the basis for some of the ones that she ordered Tuesday.

Tobacco companies had urged Kessler to reject the government's proposed industry-financed corrective statements. They call them “forced public confessions,” adding that the statements are designed to “shame and humiliate” them.

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