When anti-smoking advocate La Tanisha Wright looked at the details of an agreement reached last month between the three largest American tobacco companies, the Justice Department and a coalition of anti-tobacco groups, she said her "heart dropped."
Part of the settlement includes a set of "corrective statements," public-service advertisements about the health effects of tobacco use and admissions that tobacco companies knowingly lied about the health consequences of tobacco. These are supposed to run in more than 600 newspapers around the country and on three TV networks.
But to Wright's amazement, African-American media, which saw extensive targeted advertising by the tobacco industry for decades, were excluded from the deal.
The revelation stunned Wright. But it also offered anti-tobacco-industry activists and civil rights organizations a way to fight back. Now a court battle is under way, led by African-American media and civil rights groups, to try to remedy the omission and ensure that corrective statements appear in front of African-Americans.