Ad blitz seeks public support for tobacco deal
March 11, 1998
Ad in The Wall Street Journal
Web posted at: 9:11 a.m. EST (1411 GMT)
Washington (CNN) -- Four leading cigarette companies
launched a $10 million advertising campaign Wednesday in
hopes of educating the public on the importance of getting
the tobacco settlement pending in Congress resolved, CNN has
The advertising blitz is the first of a two-part, $20 million
campaign to persuade lawmakers and the public that the
settlement is a good deal for both the nation's health and
"The focus is to try to explain to people the rationale
behind the settlement, what's involved, what the details are,
and how this is going to represent a dramatic change in how
tobacco will operate in the future," a source told CNN.
The ads come at a sensitive time.
A Senate committee takes up the first bill Wednesday arising
from the June settlement, a second committee is convening
several prominent lawmakers to solicit their views on
legislation, and the industry faces a Thursday deadline for
turning over 39,000 highly sensitive documents to a House
The ads summarize the public health concessions the industry
would make and also acknowledges the benefits to the tobacco
"If the settlement contained no benefit to our industry, or
threatened the very existence of our operations, we could not
accept it," the ads say, noting that the industry employs
"hundreds of thousands of Americans."
TV, radio ads also to run
The ads explain that the settlement would impose stringent
regulation of tobacco, advertising and marketing restrictions
and "massive financial obligations." It would also pay for "a
massive and sustained assault against underage smoking."
The black-and-white, text-only ads will appear in major U.S.
newspapers, including The Washington Post, The New York
Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the Los Angeles
The ads were taken out by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Philip
Morris Cos. Inc., Brown and Williamson Tobacco Co. and
Lorillard Tobacco Co.
Beginning Thursday or Friday, television ads will begin
running in "33 spot markets, including New York, Los Angeles,
and other major cities," a source said. A national radio
campaign also will start Thursday or Friday.
The settlement negotiated last June by the leading tobacco
companies and the 40 states suing them would require the
tobacco industry to pay states $368.5 billion over 25 years.
Money would go, in part, for campaigns against teen-age
smoking, programs to help smokers quit and medical research
into an array of smoking-related diseases.
The tobacco industry would receive limited liability from
certain civil lawsuits, including class actions, but would
have to pay $60 billion to settle pending punitive damage
Individuals could still sue, although critics of the
liability provisions -- by far the most contentious aspect of
tobacco legislation -- maintain it would be hard for them to
win against the tobacco giants.
Bills tackle tobacco issues
But a group of bipartisan senators is planning to unveil a
bill this week that would take a different approach to the
troublesome liability issue.
The bill would permit all lawsuits but would limit the amount
the tobacco industry would have to pay out in any single
year. Sources who have seen a draft say it would cost about
$8 billion a year.
The bill would also raise tobacco prices by $1.50 over two
years and provide strong Food and Drug Administration
authority over nicotine and tobacco, and meets five White
House criteria for tobacco legislation.
The Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee takes up
another bill Wednesday focused on FDA authority over nicotine
and tobacco. That bill has been attacked by Democrats, public
health groups and the tobacco industry.
Public health groups say it does not give the FDA adequate
authority over nicotine, because it transfers some FDA
responsibilities to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, which is a research-oriented agency, not a
Meanwhile, the tobacco industry, in a letter to Sen. Jim
Jeffords, R-Vermont, who chairs the Senate Labor and Human
Resources Committee, said the bill "represents a significant
step backward in efforts to achieve comprehensive tobacco
The letter, from tobacco attorney Phil Carlton, says the bill
is unconstitutional, would undermine legitimate trade secrets
and allow the FDA to establish a "back-door Prohibition" of
Reuters contributed to this report.