August 18, 2006
Federal Judge Rules Tobacco Firms Deceived Smokers and Violated Racketeering Laws
A federal judge has ruled that the nation's top cigarette manufacturers violated racketeering laws and deceived consumers for years about the health hazards of smoking but said she couldn't order them to pay the $10 billion sought by the Justice Department for smoking cessation programs. The judge said that a smoking cessation program "would unquestionably serve the public interest" but that she was barred by an appeals court ruling that remedies in this litigation must be forward-looking and not penalties for past actions. The defendants were ordered, however, to publish in newspapers and on their websites "corrective statements" on the adverse health effects and addictive properties of smoking and nicotine. The companies were also ordered to stop labelling cigarettes as "low tar," "light," "ultra light," or "mild" because such cigarettes have been found to be no safer than any others. The defendants were also ordered to pay the Justice Department's costs for pursuing the litigation estimated to be over $140 million.
Ligget Group, Inc. was excluded from the court's ruling. See The Associated Press story.
August 18, 2006 | Permalink
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