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Tobacco Firms Must Air Spots, Judge Says

Aug 18, 2006  •  Post A Comment

A federal judge ruling yesterday that big tobacco makers engaged in racketeering by hiding the dangers of smoking will require four companies to each run one 15-second prime time television advertisement per week to educate the public.

Philip Morris said it would appeal the ruling, in which U.S. Judge Gladys Kessler imposed the advertising requirements in lieu of financial penalties she said she didn’t have authority to impose. She prescribed “corrective statements” to run in the ads that would counter earlier messages from the tobacco companies.

“Each defendant should cause at least one of the corrective statements approved to appear as an advertisement on one or more of the three major television networks, i.e., CBS, ABC or NBC,” Judge Kessler wrote in a Thursday ruling. “The ads shall last at least 15 seconds and should run at least once per week between 7 p.m and 10 p.m. between Monday and Thursday.”

Judge Kessler didn’t note in her opinion why Fox and cable networks were excluded from the list. The TV spot each of the four companies — Altria, Lorillard, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co. and BATco — must air has to be about one of five corrective claims and has to air at least 10 times during the year.

Other requirements in the ruling include:

– -The terms “low tar,” “light,” “ultra light,” “mild” and “natural” can’t be used to sell cigarettes.

–Major tobacco makers have to run a full-page corrective ad once in the Sunday editions of more than two dozen major newspapers.

–Packaging and in-store signs have to carry new corrective advertising.