As of last month, prime-time tv in the US has been featuring court-mandated adverts against smoking. These segments will be funded by Altria group which owns Philip Morris USA, and British American Tobacco PLC., and come as a result of a lawsuit against the companies.
In the court case which was initiated almost 20 years ago, the big tobacco companies were accused of releasing misleading adverts, and were implicated for the false health claims they made about cigarettes in the past. The tv segments are between 30 and 45 seconds long, and feature mostly on ABC, CBS and NBC for five days a week. The adverts will run for a total of 52 weeks, and will display court-mandated text accompanied by a voice narration.
Resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Sally Satel MD and research associate at the Reason Foundation, Guy Bentley, believe that it is time similar corrective statements are released about vaping.
US Health Authorities released alarming and inaccurate reports about vaping
Despite the fact that several studies have indicated that vaping is significantly safer than smoking, last December the former Us Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released the infamous report saying that increased e-cigarette use amongst young people is a “major public health concern”. He had urged lawmakers to implement even harsher regulations in relation to vaping amongst minors, instead of commending the products as smoking cessation, or at least, harm reduction tools.
Around the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), had also released an alarming report on vaping. The focus of the report was e-cigarette use among US high school students, with the key point being that the devices were the most common “tobacco product” used by US teens.
Damage caused by misinformation about vaping needs to be reversed
Satel and Bentley think that it is now time for these entities to try reverse the damage caused by the misinformation they released. “Now would be a good time for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Surgeon General – two entities entrusted to give the public credible health information – to make their own corrective statements. Both agencies have committed public health malpractice by trying to scare people who can’t or won’t give up smoking while withholding or distorting data about viable alternatives,” they said in a joint article on Real Clear Health.
Their article goes on to point out that in contrast “Public Health England (the English CDC equivalent) using television commercials to promote e-cigarettes as part of its Stoptober campaign.” Additionally they said, the Royal College of General Practitioner’s Clinical Priority program, has partnered with Cancer Research UK, in recommending e-cigarettes as effective smoking cessation tools for patients who have failed to quit via other methods.
Big Tobacco’s corrective adverts do not make up for the withheld facts about vaping
Bentley and Satel concluded their article by pointing out that “If the FDA really wants to give smokers the best possible chance of quitting smoking, it cannot continue to leave them in the dark about the benefits of switching to reduced-risk products.” They added that “Big Tobacco’s well-documented sins”, do not in any way make up for the fact that public health entities are withholding the truth about the safer alternatives from the public.
Read Further: Real Clear Health