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Do you hear that long, low, wheezing whine? That’s Big Tobacco, moaning that it’s being picked on by a new law passed this year to restrict cigarette company advertising.
Picked on? This is the industry that continues to profit by picking on the public with an addictive, carcinogenic product that kills 440,000 Americans a year. This is the industry that has lied repeatedly to consumers and regulators about the deadly dangers of its products, that secretly juiced up the product’s nicotine levels to hook unsuspecting customers, that cynically used its marketing muscle to lure children into cigarette addiction, and that aggressively pitched “light” cigarettes to young women, falsely asserting that these products are safer.
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This industry has no right whatsoever to whine. But, with millions of addicted customers, the tobacco giants are so rich they’ve retained a gaggle of high-priced lawyers to go to court, claiming a free-speech right to market their smokes without the new law’s public-safety restrictions. Led by R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard Tobacco, the lawsuit wails that advertising constraints infringe on their constitutional right to communicate with customers about such new products as their “reduced harm” cigarettes.
There they go again with their trickery – “reduced harm,” even if true, is still harm. It’s still addictive and deadly. Why should profiteering corporations be unleashed to market any level of deliberate harm, especially in ads that would reach children? Another act of trickery is that the industry went court shopping, filing their lawsuit in Kentucky – which leads the nation in smoking, is a major tobacco producer, and has an industry-friendly court system.
They can whine till the cows come home, but this lawsuit is not about constitutional rights, it’s about tobacco corporation greed.
“Tobacco Firms Sue to Block Marketing Law,” The New York Times, September 1, 2009.