Tobacco industry admits that smoking kills

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The tobacco industry has been forced to advertise the deadly, addictive effects of smoking. This comes more than a decade after a 2006 U.S Federal Court ruling that a consortium of tobacco companies had for more than 50 years "lied, misrepresented and deceived the American public" about the effects of smoking.

In an unprecedented move, the tobacco industry has admitted that smoking kills.

"Smoking kills 1,200 people a day. The tobacco companies worked to make them as addictive as possible. There is no such thing as a safer cigarette," states the advertisement.

Cancer Society's National Health Promotion and Campaigns Manager, Shayne Nahu (Ngati Pikiao) says, "Tobacco is still our biggest killer and there's up to 5000 people every year dying from smoking-related causes. In respects of cancer, it's the single biggest preventable risk factor we have in respects of cancer."

The newly appointed Associate Minister of Education, Health, and Housing and Urban Development Hon. Jenny Salesa says, "So that is what is happening over in the States, here in Aotearoa we've never denied that smoking is addictive or that it kills."

A lawsuit filed in 1999 by the Justice Department under President Bill Clinton sought to recover funds spent by the federal government on caring for people suffering from smoking-related illnesses.

However, the judge said she could not order the companies to pay under the racketeering laws used to prosecute the federal case and instead ordered them to publish “corrective statements” in advertisements, as well as on cigarette packs, store displays and on their websites.

Tobacco companies Altria, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard and Philip Morris USA were ordered to make the factual statements by the federal court in 2006.

After over a decade of legal negotiations related to the details and content of the advertisements, the broadcast advertisements will now air Monday to Friday in the evenings on American TV stations NBC, CBS and ABC for one year while the full-page newspaper advertisements will be printed on five Sundays over several months in over 40 national newspapers.

Hon. Jenny Salesa says it's nothing new to Aotearoa NZ, "Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, we have known for a while and we've had the cessation television advertisements to say that smoking is harmful smoking is addictive and smoking absolutely kills."

Shayne Nahu says, "So no I don't think it is enough, I think it's great they've been forced to do that but we need to make sure that they don't carry on making these false claims and trying to influence government policy and direction."

He says 40% of Māori women smoke as opposed to 15% of the general population and that targeted cessation programs are required.

"We need to be looking at how easy it is to actually purchase, we want to make sure the support so we want a plan and we think this government needs a plan in place to get there."

Hon. Jenny Salesa says she is committed to revisiting the goal of making NZ Smokefree by 2025.

"The National Government dropped the Aotearoa Smokefree 2025 goals and what I will do is go back to the Ministry of Health and say what is it that we need to do to get back on track on Smoke-free Aotearoa."