These anti-smoking ads were —​ wait for it — ​paid for ​by tobacco companies.​

"More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined."

After decades of growing evidence telling us smoking kills, you may not be all that shocked to see a message like that being advertised.

What if I told you a cigarette company paid for it?


Graphic by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Starting Nov. 26, anti-smoking ads — paid for by Big Tobacco companies — will start appearing in newspapers and on TVs across the U.S.

These companies aren't running the ads voluntarily, of course.

Back in 2006, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler found that tobacco giants Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Philip Morris USA conspired to hide the health risks associated with smoking from the public, NPR reported. The suit was originally filed by a number of medical and advocacy groups in 1999.

In her scathing ruling — in which she called cigarettes "highly addictive" products that lead to "a staggering number of deaths per year [and] an immeasurable amount of human suffering" — Justice Kessler ordered the companies run "corrective statements" to counter their harmful and misleading messages from years past. After years (and years and years) of appeals and disputes over the exact wording of the statements, the companies' ads are finally being published and aired to an audience of millions.

So you may start seeing ads like this one — a full page spread in The Wall Street Journal — that spells out the facts about cigarettes and their effects.

Or a TV spot like this one, which will air on networks during prime time.

The ads are void of color and flashy imagery; they simply state the facts.

All in all, 50 major American newspapers will carry full-page, weekly anti-smoking ads, and NBC, ABC, and CBS will air five spots like the one above every week for the next year — all paid for by Big Tobacco, NBC News reported.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which has been part of the suit since the beginning, created graphics to be shared on social media to help boost news of the ad launch.

There's this graphic, in which the group notes why tobacco executives are a bunch of "frauds."

Graphic by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Or this one, in which the organization highlights the fact that Big Tobacco all but admitted to lying and racketeering.

Graphic by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"It’s both an important victory and a frustrating one," Matthew Myers, president of the organization, told The New York Times. These companies, he explained, have spent millions of dollars and over a decade avoiding having to simply tell the truth about their products.

Anti-smoking advocates see a few drawbacks to the ad launch though. For starters, the 11 years it took for these corrective statements to go public means the media landscape has evolved in favor of the tobacco companies. Newspaper ads, for instance, are significantly less influential than they were in 2006 since social media and internet advertising has grown. The wording on the ads has also been tampered down throughout the appeals process; the companies' lawyers argued earlier versions were crafted with the sole intent to "shame and humiliate them," according to The New York Times.

These ads will still make a difference, however, advocates argue.

The public may already know smoking cigarettes is harmful because the health effects are well-documented by now, Myers said. But this is still an opportunity to further inform Americans about just how deadly they can be and just how far their makers are willing to go to get customers to buy them.

"Very few people know that the court found that the tobacco industry intentionally manipulates cigarettes to make them more addictive," Myers told NPR.

Graphic by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Robin Koval, CEO and president of anti-smoking nonprofit Truth Initiative, agreed: The ads take on important new meanings in 2017.

"People have forgotten over time all of the practices of the tobacco industry," Koval told NBC News. "Not only the fact that they lied about the products but also the fact that the products they were selling to the American people were engineered to be addictive as possible."

It's about time Big Tobacco got its facts straight.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash
smiling woman in gray hoodie beside smiling boy in blue and red jacket

After a year and a half of a global pandemic and domestic upheaval, most of us are feeling some variation of tired, fried, exhausted and generally done with everything. We've been swimming through choppy and uncharted waters, and even strong swimmers need a life jacket under such conditions.

We can all use an extra measure of grace and understanding as we navigate these waters, which is why this email from a professor to her English 101 class is so dang heartwarming. This message went out to students the day after their first essay was due, with the subject line, "You need a break today."

Here's what it said:

"All,

The pandemic is kicking everyone's ass. Can I say that? I don't know, but I did.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!