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Federal Court Orders Big Tobacco to Admit 'Truth' About Cigarettes in 'Corrective Statements'

Don't look for these any time soon as the tobacco companies will almost certainly appeal, but U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled Tuesday that tobacco companies sued by the Department of Justice back in 1999 must issue "corrective statements" to the public after decades of deception about the health hazards of smoking cigarettes.

In an order, Kessler stated that the defendant tobacco companies had made false and deceptive statements on five topics:

(a) the adverse health effects of smoking;

(b) the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine;

(c) the lack of any significant health benefit from smoking 'low tar,' 'light,' 'ultralight,' 'mild,' and 'natural' cigarettes;

(d) Defendants' manipulation of cigarette design and composition to ensure optimum nicotine delivery; and

(e) the adverse health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Elaborating on a 2006 order in which the court had mandated that the defendants publish corrective statements, Kessler laid out this week exactly how the blunt statements should read. For each of the five topics, the judge ruled, the defendants must preface the corrective statements by noting that 

A Federal Court has ruled that the Defendant tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public about the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine, and has ordered those companies to make this statement. Here is the truth:

The various "truths" that the tobacco companies must admit to under Kessler's order include the following:

  • "Smoking kills, on average, 1200 Americans. Every day." 
  • "More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined." 
  • "Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction."
  • "All cigarettes cause cancer, lung disease, heartattacks, and premature death - lights, low tar, ultra lights, and naturals. There is no safe cigarette."
  • "Defendant tobacco companies intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive."
  • "There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke."

And so on.

Reuters reports that the tobacco company defendants have been battling to avoid being forced to use words such as "deceived" in the corrective statements, but lost this free speech battle before Kessler. A spokesman for one defendant, Reynolds American, stated that the company was "reviewing the judge's ruling and considering next steps," but tobacco industry analysts are confident that the tobacco companies will "appeal absolutely everything."

Posted by Bruce Carton on November 28, 2012 at 04:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)


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