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"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?


[rebelmouse-image 19469889 dam="1" original_size="750x394" caption="Graphic by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids." expand=1]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."

[rebelmouse-image 19469890 dam="1" original_size="750x393" caption="Graphic by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids." expand=1]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.

[rebelmouse-image 19469891 dam="1" original_size="750x394" caption="Graphic by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids." expand=1]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.

[rebelmouse-image 19469892 dam="1" original_size="750x394" caption="Graphic by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids." expand=1]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.

Health

A child’s mental health concerns shouldn’t be publicized no matter who their parents are

Even politicians' children deserve privacy during a mental health crisis.

A child's mental health concerns shouldn't be publicized.

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


It's an unspoken rule that children of politicians should be off limits when it comes to public figure status. Kids deserve the ability to simply be kids without the media picking them apart. We saw this during Obama's presidency when people from both ends of the political spectrum come out to defend Malia and Sasha Obama's privacy and again when a reporter made a remark about Barron Trump.

This is even more important when we are talking about a child's mental health, so seeing detailed reports about Ted Cruz's 14-year-old child's private mental health crisis was offputting, to say it kindly. It feels icky for me to even put the senator's name in this article because it feels like adding to this child's exposure.

When a child is struggling with mental health concerns, the instinct should be to cocoon them in safety, not to highlight the details or speculate on the cause. Ever since the news broke about this child's mental health, social media has been abuzz, mostly attacking the parents and speculating if the child is a member of the LGBTQ community.

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Science

Dyslexic plumber gets a life-changing boost after his friend built an app that texts for him

It uses AI to edit his work emails into "polite, professional-sounding British English."

via Pixabay

An artist's depiction of artificial intelligence.

There is a lot of mistrust surrounding the implementation of artificial intelligence these days and some of it is justified. There's reason to worry that deep-fake technology will begin to seriously blur the line between fantasy and reality, and people in a wide range of industries are concerned AI could eliminate their jobs.

Artists and writers are also bothered that AI works on reappropriating existing content for which the original creators will never receive compensation.

The World Economic Forum recently announced that AI and automation are causing a huge shake-up in the world labor market. The WEF estimates that the new technology will supplant about 85 million jobs by 2025. However, the news isn’t all bad. It also said that its analysis anticipates the “future tech-driven economy will create 97 million new jobs.”

The topic of AI is complex, but we can all agree that a new story from England shows how AI can certainly be used for the betterment of humanity. It was first covered by Tom Warren of BuzzFeed News.

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This article originally appeared on 04.15.19


On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.

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Famous writers shared their book signing woes with a disheartened new author.

Putting creative work out into the world to be evaluated and judged is nerve-wracking enough as it is. Having to market your work, especially if you're not particularly extroverted or sales-minded, is even worse.

So when you're a newly published author holding a book signing and only two of the dozens of people who RSVP'd show up, it's disheartening if not devastating. No matter how much you tell yourself "people are just busy," it feels like a rejection of you and your work.

Debut novelist Chelsea Banning recently experienced this scenario firsthand, and her sharing it led to an amazing deluge of support and solidarity—not only from other aspiring authors, but from some of the top names in the writing business.

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