Tobacco industry must come clean
Federal Judge Gladys Kessler ordered some of the world's largest cigarette companies to come clean about decades of false advertising. Kessler's summary included:
"Over the course of more than 50 years, defendants lied, misrepresented and deceived the American public, including smokers and the young people they avidly sought as 'replacement' smokers about the devastating health effects of smoking and environmental tobacco smoke."
Big Tobacco was ordered to pay for a two-year national campaign admitting their dishonesty, in order for them to set the record straight about harmful effects of cigarettes.
Many in the United States, especially here in West Virginia, continue to suffer preventable illness and chronic disease and death because of a lifetime of smoking. The tobacco companies got away with false advertising for decades, and this greatly influenced public opinion and deceived smokers from the truth. Had the industry been honest about the ill effects of smoking, such as cancer, heart, and lung diseases, many lives and health-care dollars could have been saved!
Unfortunately, the tobacco industry continues to prey upon the poor, the less-fortunate, and those who can least afford the illnesses caused by tobacco and nicotine addiction. It is well past time for policy makers and court adjudicators to make the tobacco industry come clean, for tobacco prevention and cessation, as well as strong tobacco product taxation and other policies to be given more than just lip service in West Virginia and all of Appalachia. These efforts can save billions of dollars in preventable health-care costs over the years to come.
Bruce W. Adkins