KU News Service

Big tobacco ads may 'apologize' but don't indicate cigarette companies changing their methods, researcher says

Wed, 10/04/2017

LAWRENCE — Big tobacco companies will begin airing ads as soon as next month on major network television and in newspapers to settle a lawsuit brought years ago. Altria Group Inc. and British American Tobacco will buy 30- to 45-second spots to air messages about the dangers of smoking and addressing misleading statements the industry made about cigarettes and their health effects.

News reports indicate the spots will display court-mandated text and feature a voiceover making statements such as “Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard and Philip Morris USA intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive.” Yvonnes Chen, associate professor of journalism at the University of Kansas, is available to discuss the ads, "Big Tobacco," tobacco advertising, smoking and related issues with media. Chen has led and been part of research projects that found adolescents’ brains react similarly to smokers when viewing e-cigarette ads and examining the link between media literacy and understanding tobacco company advertising. The ads recognize the dangerous nature of smoking but do not indicate a change in business practices, Chen said.

“This will be the first time that big tobacco companies use advertising as a platform to ‘apologize,’” Chen said. “While the message is apologetic, the public should know that these companies continue to invest in products, such as e-cigarettes, that have been found to increase uptake in combustible tobacco use in adolescents.”

Chen can discuss the ongoing Big Tobacco settlement, cigarette and tobacco ads, tobacco in media, how tobacco advertisers target young people, understanding tobacco ad messages, media literacy and related topics. To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at 785-864-8860 or

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