Sunday, March 18, 2007

Judge Kessler Rules Tobacco Companies May Not Market Cigarettes As "Low Tar" or "Light" Overseas

Article in the New York Times -- Judge Says Tobacco Companies Can’t Use ‘Light’ Label Overseas, by the Associated Press.  Much of the debate over "light" cigarettes centers on the notion that unlke the government-mandated testing machines, many smokers compensate for lower tar by covering filter holes with their lips or inhaling more deeply.  But this reasoning seems flawed -- for example, if many people eat more baked potato chips than fried potato chips, it doesn't mean a bag of baked potato chips is as bad as a bag of fried potato chips.  Shouldn't producers just provide the information about the product and let the user decide about how, and how much, to consume?

Here's an excerpt from the article:

A federal judge on Friday prohibited top tobacco companies from marketing cigarettes overseas as “low tar” and “light,” in a move applauded by antismoking activists.

But Judge Gladys Kessler of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia declined to apply internationally an earlier decision ordering companies to post signs in stores in the United States saying such cigarettes are dangerous and addictive and that tobacco companies have manipulated them to deliver nicotine to smokers.

In a landmark lawsuit brought by the government, Judge Kessler ruled on Aug. 17 that the nation’s top cigarette makers violated racketeering laws and deceived the public for years about the health hazards of smoking.

She ordered the companies to stop using terms like “light” on their products.

After the decision, the companies asked Judge Kessler to allow them to use the marketing overseas, a request she rejected on Friday.


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