Big Tobacco’s mea culpa ad campaign

Big Tobacco is launching a major ad campaign this Sunday in which it acknowledges the deadly nature of smoking and the industry’s role in concealing the danger of cigarettes from the public.

The unusual campaign, the outgrowth of a court case that began in 1999, will feature a series of five, stark full-page ads in dozens of newspapers across the country, including the Boston Globe. Similar ads will run on the major television networks in prime time over the course of an entire year.

Altria Group Inc., the parent company of Philip Morris USA, and British American Tobacco will foot the bill for the campaign. Altria has said it expects to spend about $31 million on the advertising.

The US Justice Department sued the cigarette manufacturers in 1999 and won a court judgment seven years later that found the companies had violated racketeering laws and lied for decades about the dangers of smoking. The companies cited First Amendment rights in fighting the corrective statements required by the judgment, but last month reached a settlement and agreed to move forward with the campaign.

The ads won’t be flashy. They will carry text stating that a federal court has ordered the companies to run the ads, which carry messages in five different categories: the adverse health impacts of smoking, the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine, the absence of health benefits from smoking low tar or light cigarettes, the manipulation of cigarette design and composition, and the adverse health effects of secondhand smoke.

The ads will convey what we already know — that smoking is deadly, that cigarettes are addictive, and that tobacco manufacturers “intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction.” What makes the mea culpa campaign unusual is that the ads are being paid for by the very companies that manufactured the death sticks in the first place and used advertising to increase their sales.



Gov. Charlie Baker confirms a Herald report from last week that there was communication between State Police officials and someone in the Worcester County district attorney’s office regarding the arrest of a local judge’s daughter. (Boston Herald)

Baker signs a bill mandating contraceptive coverage — with no copays — under Massachusetts health insurance plans. (Boston Globe)

Lowell Sun editorial backs legislation that would require police officers to receive training in how to deal with the stress associated with their jobs. Sponsors say the training might reduce the number of suicides by police officers.

In the wake of a Supreme Judicial Court ruling that “bodily harm” charges against a teenage defendant cannot apply when the victim is an animal, Sen. Bruce Tarr wants to update an animal welfare statute to allow for such charges. (Boston Herald)


Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan has submitted a proposal to the Town Council to ban retail recreational marijuana sales but place a moratorium through the end of next year on a decision on cultivation and production facilities, with the possibility of allowing those depending on what the state regulations look like. (Patriot Ledger)

A judge has ordered Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia and the city administrator to hand over private cellphone records and emails in the city’s suit against the private Fall River Office of Economic Development. (Herald News)

A second medical pot dispensary is approved on Nantucket. (Cape Cod Times)


Eight women accuse Charlie Rose of sexually harassing them. (Washington Post) His female  co-hosts on CBS Morning have tough words for him. (Mediate) A second woman has come forward to accuse Sen. Al Franken of groping her. (New York Times)

A San Francisco judge permanently blocks President Trump’s order cutting funding to sanctuary cities. (Time)

Gov. Charlie Baker said the Republican tax bills in Congress will hit the middle class the hardest. (State House News)

President Trump declares North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, opening the rogue nation to further economic sanctions. (U.S. News & World Report)

Massachusetts advocates decry a Trump administration order that would end temporary protections for about 60,000 Haitians living in the US, including about 4,700 in Massachusetts. (Boston Globe)


Joan Vennochi offers a thoughtful assessment of voting choices people make when they weigh personal transgressions — whether those of Bill ClintonTed Kennedy, or Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore — against their ideological alignment with a candidate. (Boston GlobeMichael Graham offers a different take, saying the Clintons helped usher in the partisan era of “pervs before principles.” (Boston Herald)

The Massachusetts Democratic Party called on Gov. Charlie Baker to withdraw his support for Republican Senate candidate Dean Tran, who took a number of positions at a recent debate that differed from those of the governor. Tran, a Fitchburg city councilor, is running against Democrat Susan Chalifoux-Zephir and independent Claire Freda. (Telegram & Gazette)


Federal officials have shut down a fishing sector once dominated by Carlos Rafael, the New Bedford “Codfather,” and overseen by his daughter since his arrest because of the lack of plans to provide accountability and enforcement measures which other fleets do in their sectors. (Cape Cod Times)

A developer unveils plans for a pricey rental complex in Boston’s South End that will cater to high-earning 20-somethings and have amenities of a luxe dorm. (Boston Globe)

An unlicensed home improvement contractor pleaded guilty to 42 charges and faces as many as four years in prison. (Salem News)

Hijacking and disabling websites is fairly easy and done thousands of times a day. (Boston Globe)


A lifelong parishioner of St. Lawrence Martyr Church in New Bedford has filed suit against the Fall River Diocese to halt the removal and sale of historic bells at the church, claiming she and other parishioners had raised $360,000 to save and repair the bells but diocesan officials took the money and used it for other purposes. (Standard-Times)


Boston public schools in East Boston are showing strong results in educating English language learners. (Boston Globe)

A former Stoughton High School student who allegedly had a years-long sexual relationship with a teacher who has since been fired filed suit against the town and the superintendent for failing to do anything about the affair despite earlier investigations. (The Enterprise)


The Globe spotlights provisions in the House and Senate criminal justice bills that expand access to medication treatment for inmates with opioid addictions who are incarcerated in state or county facilities. Three public health researchers hailed the move last week in this commentary piece in CommonWealth.

Health care enrollments under the Affordable Care Act are up 41 percent so far this year in Massachusetts over last year. (MetroWest Daily News)


The MBTA signs two major contracts that General Manager Luis Ramirez says will “change the narrative of the T.” (CommonWealth)

The MBTA adopts a new tone with Keolis, the commuter rail operator, and the chairman of the Fiscal and Management Control Board said the transit authority is spending too much money on too little ridership. (CommonWealth) A Boston-bound commuter train on the Haverhill Linederailed Monday morning but service on the line was restored by the afternoon. (Eagle-Tribune)

In T notes, the Fiscal and Management Control Board voted 3-2 to allow alcohol advertising in stations and plans to take another try at making overnight bus service work. (CommonWealth)

No way. The New York Times stands by a chart that indicates Boston’s subway system is on time 97 percent of the time. (Boston Magazine)


A quarterly report from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says inspectors found seven procedural and maintenance violations that were “more than minor” at the embattled and soon-to-be closed Pilgrim power plant. (Cape Cod Times)


New York City tries a bold new approach to reducing recidivism. (Governing)

Michael Litchfield is sentenced to six years in prison for selling heroin laced with fentanyl to a man who died of an overdose. His wife faces similar charges. (Berkshire Eagle)


The Justice Department has filed suit to block AT&T’s the $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, owner of CNN, which is despised by President Trump, saying the mega-merger would hurt consumer choices. (New York Times)

In the wake of the FCC lifting the ban for cross-ownership of television stations and newspapers or two or more TV stations in the same market, media critic and Northeastern University journalism professor Dan Kennedy offers a history lesson of the 45-year-old ban, which, of course, has its roots in Boston. (WGBH)