Is Big Tobacco running these ads in your area?

Here is a recent paid article (an “advertorial”) from a tobacco company – an example of how the industry is seeking to create influence and stoke interference. The tobacco industry’s goals? They want people to think they are a normal company and a legitimate stakeholder in public health policy. Big Tobacco wants to be at the table with decision makers – to stall or undermine public health best practice policies that end the tobacco epidemic.

To be clear, tobacco companies are not normal companies.

Tobacco companies are pariahs. Their business depends on luring new generations of people into their web of addiction, disease, and death.  Persistent gaps in smokefree protections that leave millions of people exposed to secondhand smoke at work at not by accident. It is the outcome of decades of Big Tobacco interference: lies, lobbying, and litigation.  Smoking and secondhand smoke still kills nearly 500,000 people in the U.S. every year.

In August, California became the second state (after Massachusetts) to adopt a law to end the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavored electronic smoking devices. These laws aim to reduce the impact of targeted tobacco industry marketing of flavored products, especially to youth and low-income communities of color. The industry knows they can’t hook kids on tobacco without menthol and candy flavors.

Phillip Morris and RJ Reynolds started working to overturn the new law the moment it was signed by the Governor. Signature gatherers spent the fall collecting signatures across California to overturn the law by putting it on the November 2022 ballot. There are numerous documented incidences of signature gathers lying by telling people that signing the petition will protect kids from flavored tobacco. That is the opposite of the truth. The new law will protect kids from flavored tobacco; while the petition seeks to overturn the new law.

The tobacco industry is investing millions of dollars to try to overturn the law because they know it will reduce tobacco sales and hurt their bottom line. This is the same bad behavior we know to expect from tobacco companies. The tobacco industry is trying to protect their profits at the expense of the health of California’s kids and communities.