Report Says Tobacco Advertising Rose After State Lawsuits Settled
A 1998 agreement between 46 states and tobacco companies imposed phased-in advertising restrictions on cigarette manufacturers, including limits on the use of outdoor advertising and the distribution of free samples.
But those provisions did not immediately keep tobacco companies from advertising their product.
The FTC posted a document on its Web site this week stating that the five largest cigarette manufacturers spent dlrs 8.2 billion on advertising and promotions in 1999, a 22 percent increase from 1998.
The industry's total expenditures were the most ever reported to the commission in one year, according to the report. The agency has been tracking such figures since 1967, according to FTC attorney Michael Ostheimer.
Ostheimer said it was important to note that some of the advertising restrictions had not taken effect in 1999 or were enacted a few months into the year.
But Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids President Matthew Myers said the report showed further marketing restrictions should be imposed on cigarette manufacturers.
Sen. Tom Harkin, co-sponsor of a bill to regulate tobacco advertising and give the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products, said it's obvious the time has come for Congress to pass the law.
"Big tobacco is blowing smoke in our kids' faces in an effort to hide the truth. The FTC data shows that the tobacco industry has changed _ for the worse," Harkin said. "Congress must hold their feet to the fire." And the way to do that, he said, is "to pass commonsense bipartisan legislation to protect our kids."
Philip Morris spokesman Tom Ryan acknowledged the company had increased its promotions in retail stores. He said Philip Morris felt it had to offer new discount promotions because it increased prices to pay for the legal settlement with the states.
That settlement was the subject of debate at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. The organization announced it filed Freedom of Information requests in 21 states to try to determine how law firms were chosen for tobacco litigation and whether the fees they charged were excessive.
Chamber President Thomas Donohue also said he was sending a letter to congressional leaders asking them to investigate.
Forty-six states reached a dlrs 206 billion settlement with tobacco companies in 1998 to cover government health costs for treating sick smokers. Four other states settled earlier for dlrs 40 billion.
Under the agreement, the legal fees were subject to the approval of an arbitration panel and were paid in addition to the settlement amount owed to the states. Some of the highest legal fees went to lawyers in Florida, who were paid dlrs 3.4 billion, and Texas, where they earned dlrs 3.3 billion.