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Ever feel like tobacco companies were being a little misleading about the dangers of smoking? Turns out, you were right. At least according to U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler, you were.

On Tuesday, Kessler ordered American tobacco companies to admit that their advertising around low tar and light cigarettes "deliberately deceived" the public. The industry must now pay for two years worth of advertising righting those wrongs and explaining in difficult, factual language exactly how dangerous cigarettes are. Each ad must contain a line about the court's ruling, including that "deliberately deceived" language and conclude with the very straightforward statement, "Here is the truth."

The statements the tobacco companies have to make show that the truth is rough:

  • "Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day."
  • "More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined."
  • "Smoking causes heart disease, emphysema, acute myeloid leukemia, and cancer of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, lung, stomach, kidney, bladder, and pancreas."
  • "Smoking also causes reduced fertility, low birth weight in newborns, and cancer of the cervix and uterus."

Obviously, the tobacco companies aren't happy about this ruling and plan to push back on the harsh language the court wants them to include in the advertisements. They can hardly be surprised, though. It was only six years ago that the very same judge, Gladys Kessler, convicted the tobacco companies of racketeering based on the same grounds. "Over the course of more than 50 years," Kessler wrote in a 1,653-page ruling, "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."

If this still isn't clicking, just have a look at some old cigarette advertisements. They didn't just make you think that cigarettes weren't bad for you. They basically encouraged you to think they're healthy! Our favorite tagline: "More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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