“Corrective statements” won’t stop Big Tobacco’s smoke and mirrors

I have mixed emotions about this recent news. Though on second thought, maybe “news” isn’t the right word for it…

At long last, tobacco companies across the country are finally being forced to own up to their long con on the public, and admit that yes, their products are dangerous. Courts have ordered “corrective statements,” which began running as ads in major U.S. news outlets late last year.

These statements cover the obvious subjects, like the health risks of smoking and second-hand smoke. But they also require an admission that cigarettes and other tobacco products were intentionally designed with the exact amount of nicotine required to create — and maintain — addiction.

Now, on one hand, I’m quite pleased to see any big business own up to its craven deceptions. (Especially considering how rarely it happens.) And the tobacco industry, in particular, has had it coming for a while now.

However, I can’t help thinking that this is a major waste of money that would be better spent elsewhere.

Now, I can see some cathartic value in laying it all out there — with all of Big Tobacco’s ugly parts exposed under the clear light of day, for the world to see. After all, it’s important to remember that none of this happened by accident. Tobacco companies have known since the 60s that their products kill, and yet they refuse to admit it (even as recently as 2005).

More importantly, they know their products are addictive—because they made them that way on purpose. Yet, they continue to publicly deny that fact. Still, if the majority of Americans don’t already know this by now, we’re doing a REALLY bad job in the public health sector.

Of course, let’s assume for a moment that some people aren’t aware of just how disgusting and corrupt the tobacco industry is. These long overdue “corrections” are appearing via TV and newspaper ads. Do you really think that’s an effective communication strategy? Especially for young people — who need the anti-tobacco message most.

When was the last time you saw a teenager or 20-something read a newspaper? Or even watch TV with commercials? Like it or not, touch screens and at-your-fingertips “on demand” viewing is the new way to get information.

Secondly, forced apologies (no matter how public) do nothing to right the many wrongs inflicted by the tobacco industry. Mea culpa… but mea not impressed. An admission of guilt (however satisfying) is no substitute for meaningful atonement.

Especially considering how much money goes into a campaign like this. Wouldn’t these funds be better spent on educating younger people about the dangers of smoking? Or even subsidizing healthier food options?

The bottom line is, why beat a dead horse? I think pretty much the entire world knows that smoking kills — and that tobacco companies designed their products for addiction, without regard for the lives they would take.

So, if you ask me, this whole campaign is the very definition of too little, too late.

Yes, Big Tobacco built their entire, very profitable industry on lies. But you know what? Big Pharma’s not so different. Or Big Agribusiness, or Big Sugar… the list is endless. And lip service from one of these monsters hardly makes up for the toll the whole lot of them are taking on our society.

This is a token gesture and nothing more.  And as far as I’m concerned, it’s just yet another example of our country being held hostage by big businesses — and yet another diversionary tactic designed to distract us from the lack of judgment and leadership that now plagues our entire nation.