Are Truth ads fair?

If an individual supplies an known alcoholic with enough booze to drink themselves to death, and stands by and lets them do it, are they legally culpable? That would seem to be the proper way to judge tobacco companies.

(Well, post-SG warning. Previous to that they were substantially worse).

As for the usefulness of ads? Those graphic and disgusting ads on Canadian cigarette packs are supposedly encouraging people to quit. (Sorry, no cite; read it in a Toronto daily) They’re ticking off smokers, yeah, but that’s kind of the point, and as a non-smoker I couldn’t care less. Same with all the bleating about anti-smoking laws in bars and restaurants and the like. People will still eat out if they can’t smoke. If they don’t, hey, less of a lineup at the better restaurants for me. :wink:

The letter appears on the Foundation’s site, at The company is Lorillard Tobacco, and here are some quotes from both sides:

The Foundation has filed suit in the state of Delaware to stop Lorillard from killing the truth campaign. For the full text of Lorillard’s letter, and information via press releases and the complaint filed with the court, visit

(I just realized the Foundation’s name can be abbreviated to ALF. Ha! I kill me.)

Screw fair, what about effective?

I submit that any campaign, regardless of its goals, that uses exaggeration and/or false claims is doomed to failure - especially one that (as the Truth campaign is) is targeted at teenagers.

Kids will find out the ‘Truth’ and will afterwards disregard both the messenger and the message, as yet another adult lying to them. That is the last thing the American Legacy Foundation should want to have happen.


Suasponte: Exaggeration and false claims aren’t even necessary, either, as the relative success of the Canadian campaign proves. (Or would, if I could find a bloody cite).

Then again, there’s false and then there’s false. The “urea” bit was just a clever misdirection, not an out-and-out lie. The idea that there are rather disturbing chemicals in cigarette smoke isn’t exactly a new idea, and (as far as I ever knew) fairly well supported.

The key question, however, is whether the truth ads are working. A smoker saying “they don’t affect me, I’m completely rational in my desire to smoke, I have a right to smoke, and it’s all just a gubmint conspiracy” doesn’t make for great proof. Anybody got stats?

To make matters worse, the tobacco companies don’t just supply the substance. They actually encourage its consumption.

Yeah, then someone like me, a free thinking independent decision making individual goes to the store, buys a pack of cigarettes, opens it, takes one out, puts it in my mouth and applies fire to the other end of it.

Damn those tobacco companies, for they profit off of the personal decision I make to use their product. I decided to start smoking, but Phillp Morris and RJ Reynolds bear full responsibility for that decision. If I’ve ended up with an addiction because of a decision I made, it must be the tobacco companies’ fault.

They made me do it. I am not personally responsible for any decisions I make, especially not stupid ones. It’s all their fault.

And there is prime ocean front property in Arizona.

Ah, mobo, thanks a bunch. I still wish the response I read from the truth folks was available, but the others are interesting, too.

I think the letter from Lorillard is rather clear: *[The fact that truth is attacking and vilifying tobacco companies] comes as a matter of great disappointment to Lorillard, as the MSA sets forth in details ALF’s permissible functions and the manner in which ALF may use Fund money. Even more importantly, the MSA expressly provides that the Fund may not be used "for any personal attack on, or vilification of, any person (whether by name or business affiliation), company, or governmental agency, whether individually or collectively [ALF] shall work to ensure that its activities are carried out in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner…

Rather than focus on the products themselves, in large part the message of the “truth” campaign is that the participating manufacturers and their executives are dishonest, deceitful, callous, malicous, or otherwise unscrupulous.*

I think this letter is very clear, and if they are indeed quoting directly from the MSA then truth has some serious explaining to do.

The first response to the letter (all of which can be found here) fails to mention anything about the simple fact that they seem to be violating the agreement, the very agreement which secures the funds they have. How quaint, and entirely predictable. I’d quote the letter, but you can’t prove a negative. This letter, by chairperson Christine Gregiore, completely misses the point.

Another response to the Lorillard letter, by Dr Cheryl Heaton, the President and CEO of ALF, is apparently a transcript of the press conference she called to handle this letter. Here are some interesting quotes (some are repeats of mobo’s quotes):

Apparently, and not without irony, it seems to be irrelevant to the truth campaign that they are, in fact, doing exactly what Lorillard has accused them of. If this gets shot down in court, I will be very, very upset with the legal system. Though, hey, it wouldn’t be the first time. Look at DOMA. :rolleyes: Anyway…

ALF is simply trying to play it off, “Hey, we’re doing a good thing, and the evil Illuminati are trying to stop us by citing the very laws we are bound by.” Sorry, “truth”, but IMO you are going to have to do better than that.

Education? As noted by a poster above, why don’t you educate them about what is in our water supply? In the air we breathe disregarding cigarette smoke pollutants? Clearly, you are deliberately misleading the viewing audience in an attempt to do what you feel is the correct thing to do. In my book, that’s downright immoral, and I hope to hell illegal.

:rolleyes: A smokescreen (how positively Freudian)? Does any doper here remember the truth commercials which outright call “big tobacco” as liars and otherwise evil people? I remember that smug bastard looking the camera in the eye. I’d punch his lights out if I ever met him in person. These people are deliberately lying about what anyone with two eyes can see in their ads. They are misrepresenting the nature of cigarettes when it clearly isn’t necessary to do so in order to demonstrate the dangers of smoking. They deliberately attacked tobacco company executives in at least two commercials I can remember when they are expressly forbidden to do so under the terms of their funding.

In short, these bastards think they can do the wrong thing for the right reason. The ends don’t justify the means, folks, and I expect every ignorace-fighting doper to agree that the truth campaign is at best slightly dishonest, and at worst a lying propaganda machine.

Sorry,m I just can’t let this one go. I really have a thorn in my side from these truth people.
[continued quotes from the press release cited above]

DUH. I think Lorillard was rather clear and concise on the matter, and in fact mentioned that they tried several different methods of resolving the issue with no success. Like they are just itching to sue truth or something. I notice that ALF leaves every thing Lorillard said unchallenged, except for simply denying that they attacked tobacco companies.

I’ve heard better arguments from freakin’ Lolo.

Fine. GREAT. Then you’ve got a case agaisnt them… in court, or informally, just like they have a case with you.

More empty, “ends justifies the means” rhetoric:

Nice religious imagery. Might explain the inconsistency in using “truth” to describe a smear campaign.

I am usually not one for conspiracy theories but I think the “Truth Ads” are a result of one. They are funded by money from the tobacco companies as a result of law suits so the companies see them as a way lessening the backlash against them. They seem to be so over the top with their evidence that no one could take them seriously as reasons to quit smoking and their tone is so smug and obnoxious they actually make the tobacco companies seem sympathetic. It shows anti-smokers as being self-righteous jerks and tobacco company employees as being victims. I am not saying that everyone who works on these ads is in on the conspiracy, but it seems to me that any ten random people off the street could come up with a better campaign if the intention was really to stop people from smoking.

Come now. NOBODY is saying that the tobacco companies deserve all the blame.

Blame is not an “all or nothing” proposition. Should the smokers be blamed for their decision? Certainly, but that doesn’t mean that the tobacco manufacturers bear no culpability themselves.

I hate to admit this, since I’m very much against smoking, but those ads are pure propaganda. Are they fair? I guess the question should be: do they have to be fair?

I agree that those ads probably aren’t going to make someone quit if they’ve been smoking for years. But I think they’re more aiming at trying to stop kids from starting in the first place. Should they be “fair”? I don’t know the answer to that question. Certainly the tobacco companies haven’t been fair. Is it o.k. to make exaggerated claims about the dangers of smoking in order to keep kids from starting on a destructive and deadly habit? Again, I don’t know. I wonder if it defeats the purpose. Smoking definitely kills people, but if you make too many dubious claims, might it not have the effect of making people not believe ANY of it?

That makes sense, except that I remember seeing a 60 Minutes piece awhile back on that topic that said the opposite. I’m hoping someone else remembers this, and can correct me if I’m not remembering it right, but I believe they were criticizing the tobacco companies for NOT allowing the Truth Ads to be aired. At the time (a few years ago?), a different, less aggressive type of anti-smoking ad was being run. 60 Minutes claimed that this milder type of ad was ineffective, and accused the tobacco companies of deliberately supporting this ineffective method. They then touted the Truth Ads as being a much better smoking deterrent that the tobacco companies supposedly did not want to have aired.

Anybody remember this besides me? Because some of those ads really do seem “over the top”, especially the animated one where the tobacco industry is portrayed as a mean, nasty crocodile. Now I’m kind of questioning whether anyone really could take that kind of “overkill” seriously.

** JThunder:**

Re-read the last line of the post in which I made those remarks.

There is no ocean front property in Arizona, prime or otherwise. It’s a landlocked state.

Just as bogus as an offer to sell ocean front real estate in Arizona is the claim that somebody in a suit in a boardroom at a tobacco company is responsible for choices I made.

I think you’re missing the point. You were objecting to the claim that “it must be the tobacco companies’ fault.” I’m merely pointing out that this doesn’t accurately reflect what the critics believe. Most people wouldn’t say that it’s the tobacco manufacturer’s fault; rather, they would say that this blame is to be shared by both the company and their consumers.

I’ll say that. If the tobacco industry had stepped forward the moment they discovered that cigarettes were harmful and addictive I would agree with you. Hell, cigs are so addictive I doubt too many of their customers would have quit even if the package said, “Smoke at your own risk” from the getgo. But, they didn’t, instead those choose to lie to us for as long as they could, resulting in tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths. They did a pretty good job covering up their nasty secret; it wasn’t until the early 90’s they the cigarette scandal really came to light. Frankly, I wouldn’t care if those Truth ads told everyone one puff will make their genitals shrivel up and fall off, two wrongs don’t make a right, but I’m not opposed to virtually any extreme to rid this planet of those godawful things.

P.S. [hijack]What really chaps my hide is that by any credible clinical evaluation marijuana is significantly less harmful than tobacco and possibly alcohol as well, and yet its still retains its stigma as “the devil’s weed” in conservative parts of the country.[/hijack]

Those two sentences do not work very well together.

Is that so? I knew all about cigarettes when I started smoking. But then, perhaps I have some secret ability to glean the truth from thin air like a good rationalist philosopher.

Well, glad you can toss aside all principles of moral integrity and honesty for absolutely no reason whatsoever. How positively disappointing.

Well it seems you missed it, but i do have a reason:

The tobacco industry is doing its best, even now to prevent the demand for their product from dissapearing. I don’t normally feel this way, but in this specific case i say fight fire with fire.

Perhaps my reading skills are low, but that looks like a statement of intent, not a reason.

erislover and catsix, since at least one of you folks is a little younger than I, I will fill you in on a bit of history. While I was in grad school (which wasn’t that long ago…say somewhere in the timeframe of '88-'92), the CEOs of the major cigarette companies testified before Congress and were asked to state their opinion on whether or not nicotine was addictive. Every last one of these scoundrels, presumably under oath, stated that he did not believe that nicotine was addictive. I know because I saw this testimony replayed at the time on “MacNeil Lehrer NewsHour” before my very eyes. Later, internal documents revealed that not only did they know otherwise at the time (and well before, I think) but that they were manipulating nicotine levels for the purpose of keeping smokers addicted. Why these guys aren’t rotting in jail is beyond my ability to comprehend.

I do have some mixed feelings about some of the Truth ads because I do think that a few are somewhat deceptive (e.g., they can potentially leave you with the impression that urea is added to cigarettes rather than that it occurs naturally in tobacco and they can potentially leave you with the mistaken impression that there are lots of chemicals that are in cigarettes in sufficient quantities to kill you when in fact there are probably only a few of those chemicals that are actually in sufficient quantities to kill you…and over a period of time). However, these deceptions (and neither are stated explicitly as far as I understand) seem relatively minor compared to what the cigarette company execs did, which was to out-and-out lie, for heaven’s sakes. [I also happen to believe that if you polled kids you would find that very few of them actually misinterpret these ads in this way that I mention…e.g., most of them probably would give the opinion that a lot of those chemicals are probably present in very minute quantities, for example.]

There is little doubt in my mind that tobacco companies acted rather unscrupulously. That in no way justifies truth, is my point.