A federal judge has ordered tobacco companies to publish corrective statements that say they lied about the dangers of smoking and that disclose smoking’s health effects, including the death on average of 1,200 people a day. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler previously said she wanted the industry to pay for corrective statements in various types of advertisements. But this ruling is the first time Judge Kessler actually laid out what the statements will say. The ruling requires each corrective ad to be prefaced by a statement that a federal court has concluded that the Defendant tobacco companies “deliberately deceived the American public about the health effects of smoking.”
The corrective statements are part of a case the government brought in 1999 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Judge Kessler ruled in that case in 2006 that the nation’s largest cigarette makers concealed the dangers of smoking for decades, and said she wanted the industry to pay for “corrective statements” in various types of ads, both broadcast and print. The Justice Department proposed corrective statements, which Judge Kessler used as the basis for some of the ones she ordered. Judge Kessler wrote that all of the corrective statements are based on specific findings of fact made by the court, adding:
This court made a number of explicit findings that the tobacco companies perpetuated fraud and deceived the public regarding the addictiveness of cigarettes and nicotine.
The statements Judge Kessler chose included five categories: adverse health effects of smoking; addictiveness of smoking and nicotine; lack of significant health benefit from smoking cigarettes marked as “low tar,” “light,” etc.; manipulation of cigarette design and composition to ensure optimum nicotine delivery; and adverse health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke. The following are among the statements within those categories:
• Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans, every day.
• Defendant tobacco companies intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive.
• When you smoke, the nicotine actually changes the brain — that’s why quitting is so hard.
• All cigarettes cause cancer, lung disease, heart attacks and premature death — lights, low tar, ultra lights and naturals. There is no safe cigarette.
• Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and coronary heart disease in adults who do not smoke.
• Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, severe asthma and reduced lung function.
• There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
According to Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller, the Department was pleased with the order. Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, called it an important ruling, and had this to say:
The most critical part of the ruling is that it requires the tobacco companies to state clearly that the court found that they deceived the American public and that they are telling the truth now only because the court is ordering them to do so. This isn’t the last word, but this is a vitally important step because this should resolve exactly what the tobacco companies are required to say.
In July, a federal appeals court rejected efforts by the tobacco companies to overrule Judge Kessler’s ruling requiring corrective statements. The companies had argued that a 2009 law that gave the Food and Drug Administration authority over the industry eliminated “any reasonable likelihood” that they would commit future RICO violations. In her ruling, Judge Kessler ordered the tobacco companies and Justice Department to meet beginning next month to address how to implement the corrective statements, including whether they will be put in inserts with cigarette packs and on websites, TV and newspaper ads. Those discussions are to conclude by March.
Source: NBC News
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.