Hah, I thought this story was GREAT.
Several months ago, Tobacco companies were ordered by a federal district judge to take out full-page ads in a bunch of major newspapers, admitting that they lied for decades about the dangers of cigarette smoking.
The decision was made as part of a racketeering case filed against the industry by the U.S. Justice Department. (I love the term “RICO case” … sounds like something out of the Untouchables.)
Well, the tobacco industry doesn’t like being forced to say “we lied” and appealed this decision. The appellants were the three major tobacco companies in the U.S. — Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard.
Last week, a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision.
From a Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids press statement:
(This) ruling upholds the specific language of the five corrective statements ordered by Judge Kessler. The corrective statements will address the companies’ deceptions regarding 1) the adverse health effects of smoking; 2) the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine; 3) the false advertising of low-tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes; 4) the design of cigarettes to maximize nicotine delivery and addiction; and 5) the health effects of secondhand smoke.
The Court of Appeals did remove a preamble stating that the tobacco companies “deliberately deceived the American public,” but the bulk of the “corrective statement” — the five specific lies and deceptions of the tobacco companies, remained intact in the ruling.
I don’t know if the tobacco companies will appeal this ruling (or where such an appeal would go — the U.S. Supreme Court?)
The District Court judge who issued the original ruling stated in her decision that:
“[This case] is about an industry, and in particular these Defendants, that survives, and profits, from selling a highly addictive product which causes diseases that lead to a staggering number of deaths per year, an immeasurable amount of human suffering and economic loss, and a profound burden on our national health care system. Defendants have known many of these facts for at least 50 years or more. Despite that knowledge, they have consistently, repeatedly and with enormous skill and sophistication, denied these facts to the public, the Government, and to the public health community … the evidence in this case clearly establishes that Defendants have not ceased engaging in unlawful activity.”
Joining the case as intervenors are the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, National African American Tobacco Prevention Network and the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund.