NNPA, NABOB Ask U.S. Court to Include Black Press in Tobacco Settlement

Target Market News | 1/20/2014, noon
Courtesy of blackhealthzone.com

The National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA) and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) on Friday formally asked the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. to have black-owned newspapers and broadcast properties included in the list of required media outlets that tobacco companies must use to place ads outlining the dangers of smoking.

A ruling in 2012 in the U.S. Justice Department's 15-year-old case against the nation's leading tobacco producers required the companies to run "corrective statements" about the harmful effects of their products. On Jan. 10 when the U.S. Department of Justice filed an agreement on the details of those statements, Target Market News disclosed that the list (originally filed in 2006) of where those ads would appear did not include any African-American media outlets.

The media list presently filed with the court consists of full-page ads in 35 general market daily newspapers and a year of prime time commercial announcements on the CBS, NBC and ABC networks. Media buying professionals have placed the value of the media plan at between $30 million and $45 million.

The amicus brief filing by NNPA and NABOB states that because tobacco companies "directly and intentionally targeted the African American community," placing the corrective statement ads with black newspapers and broadcast stations "will be a more effective and complete remedy for the defendants' harmful conduct."

"We are shocked and deeply disappointed that the Justice Department, the Tobacco-Free Action Fund and the tobacco industry would all agree to sign off an advertising plan that totally disrespects the Black community," said Cloves C. Campbell, chairman of the NNPA, a federation of nearly 200 Black newspapers. "The industry's past efforts to target African-American consumers have been thoroughly documented. It is sad that an industry that sought to exploit our community with a product that is harmful to our health now seeks to further devalue African-Americans by ignoring the Black media when it is being forced to atone what a federal judge determined was a deliberate effort to deceive the American public."

A status conference with Judge Gladys Kessler, the Justice Department, the tobacco companies and plaintiff Tobacco-Free Action Fund is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 22 at U.S. District Court in Washington.