NEW YORK: Tobacco giants Altria and BAT are to spend millions of dollars over the next year on self-critical advertising on broadcast television networks and in leading newspapers as part of a legal settlement of a case brought almost 20 years ago. In 1999 the US Department of Justice initiated a lawsuit over misleading statements the industry had made about cigarettes and their health effects; a document filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia Monday evening by attorneys for Altria, BAT and the Justice Department, outlined the agreement all parties have reached. This involves Altria and BAT buying television spots, mostly on ABC, CBS or NBC, and full print ads in 45 or more newspapers, starting as soon as next month, the Wall Street Journal reported . The TV spots will run in prime time five days a week for 52 weeks, while the print ads will run on five weekends spread over four months and ads will also appear on the newspapers’ websites. These will display court-mandated text , with copy including: “Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Philip Morris USA intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive” and “More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined” . Altria, which owns Philip Morris USA, estimated that it will spend $31m fulfilling its obligations; BAT declined to cite a figure. “I think they’re getting off kind of lightly,” said John Boiler, co-founder of the 72andSunny agency, which also does work for the anti-tobacco, non-profit Truth campaign. “The good news for the tobacco companies is they’ll avoid a lot of their younger audience,” he explained, since those consumers would be more likely to see a video ad on Facebook than a prime-time TV ad. 2016 research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has suggested that younger consumers are more likely to be exposed to ads for e-cigarettes: 70% of US teens had seen ads for e-cigarettes – most often in-store (55%), but also online (40%), on TV or in movies (37%) and in print (30%). “The same advertising tactics the tobacco industry used years ago to get kids addicted to nicotine are now being used to entice a new generation of young people to use e-cigarettes,” said CDC director Dr.
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Ceylon Tobacco Co. ’s profit margin will continue to narrow as an increase in levies on cigarettes prompts some smokers to switch to the cheaper alternative, said Emma Ridley, finance director of the Colombo-based BAT unit. The company’s operating profit margin , the highest among listed Asian peers, narrowed to 64 percent in 2016 from 67 percent a year earlier in a cigarette market estimated at about $1.1 billion. The gap between the price of cigarettes and beedis, cheap tobacco wrapped in a coarse leaf, has widened after the government raised excise duties and slapped a 15 percent value-added tax last year. The lowest-priced offering sold by Ceylon Tobacco -- the only licensed manufacturer of cigarettes -- is about four times more expensive than leaf-rolled products, which are produced by a segment of the industry that’s relatively less regulated and has seen smaller increases in levies. “In 2017, we foresee the beedi industry capturing at least half the tobacco market, posing a serious threat to the legal cigarette industry,” said Ridley. “As the affordability of legally manufactured cigarettes continues to diminish, more consumers are expected to downgrade to this cheaper alternative.” Beedis accounted for about 44 percent of the total tobacco market last year, up from 20 percent in 2007, Ridley said. The share of smuggled cigarettes is expected to rise to about 8 percent this year from 2 percent in 2016, according to the company. The numbers for the market share shift being claimed for beedis are exaggerated, said Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne. The government is in discussions with farmers cultivating tobacco to wean them away from the crop, he said. Sri Lanka hasn’t seen any evidence of an increase in the market share of beedis as imports of tendu leaf haven’t climbed, said Palitha Abeykoon, chairman of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol.
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The Tobacco Papers reveal that companies conjectured that their new nicotine products could successfully compete with pharmaceutical NRT and they set the goal of gaining market control of all products containing nicotine. "It was surprising to discover the industry came to view NRT as just another product," Dorie Apollonio, associate professor in clinical pharmacy and lead author of the study, was quoted as saying in a UCSF news release. "The tobacco companies want people to get nicotine - and they're open-minded about how they get it." Smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths every year in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and another 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease. The costs of such illnesses total more than 300 billion U.S. dollars each year, when including both costs of direct medical care and lost productivity due to secondhand smoke exposure. Clinical trials show that NRT can help people quit smoking, but only if used in conjunction with counseling and in tapering doses. Over-the-counter availability of NRT made it easy for smokers to get a nicotine fix in non-smoking environments like offices and inside airplanes, with the net result that they were less likely to quit. And given that NRT products are widely available, one of the questions is whether they encourage nicotine abuse.