Major landmark tonight in the long fight against cancer and big tobacco

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On January 1, 1971, at 11:59 PM, almost exactly 40 years ago to the minute, Phillip Morris USA ran an extremely brief ad on US television for its Virginia Slims cigarettes, showing little more than the famous slogan, You've Come A Long Way, Baby.

It was the last promotional TV spot for cigarettes ever to run on American television.

This was achieved thanks to a young lawyer named John Banzhaf, who used an obscure 'fairness doctrine' established by Congress that allowed opposing viewpoints to run on the airwaves to sue a particular TV station to allow spots to run that showcased the health risks of cigarettes. Despite teams of big tobacco lawyers and years of litigation, Banzhof won. Big tobacco withdraw their TV spots, rather than face opposing viewpoints.


By Ross Bonander

Source: Mukherjee, Siddhartha. "The Emperor of All Maladies". 2010. Scribner; New York.

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