Cigarette Companies to Post Court-Ordered Statements in Tobacco Racketeering Suit on Company Websites and Cigarette Packages
Today, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia entered a consent order requiring the country’s major cigarette companies to begin posting “corrective statements” on their websites starting on Monday, June 18. The order, part of a long-running lawsuit against the cigarette companies, also requires them to attach the same statements to cigarette packages for two weeks at a time, for a total of twelve weeks over two years. The order will also apply to any social media campaigns by the companies to promote cigarettes.
The statements address the effects of cigarette smoking and the fact that cigarettes are deliberately designed to create and sustain addiction. As a result of a previous court order, the statements are currently running on television five times per week, and previously ran as full-page ads in about fifty newspapers across the country. The statements specifically state, among other things:
- That smoking cigarettes causes numerous diseases and on average 1,200 American deaths every day;
- That the nicotine in cigarettes is highly addictive and that cigarettes have been designed to create and sustain addiction;
- That so-called light, low-tar, and natural cigarettes are just as harmful as regular cigarettes; and
- That secondhand smoke causes disease and death in people who do not smoke.
The corrective statements were ordered as part of a 2006 permanent injunction against cigarette companies, including Altria, its Philip Morris USA subsidiary, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, to “prevent and restrain” further deception of the American people regarding tobacco use. The order also applies to ITG Brands, which purchased Winston, Kool, and other cigarettes brands from companies in the case.
Numerous Justice Department attorneys have played a role in this case over the years. In the most recent phase of the litigation, the United States was represented by Trial Attorneys Daniel K. Crane-Hirsch and John (Josh) Burke of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch, and Linda McMahon of the Commercial Litigation Branch.
Six public health organizations – 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 – joined the Department of Justice case as intervenors in 2005.