Historic Appeals Case Against the Tobacco Industry Positions Court to Decide on Key Tobacco Control Issues That Will Have Unprecedented Public Health Implications

Statement of the American Lung Association:

(October 14, 2008)

October 14, 2008 -- Today, The U.S. Department of Justice and Public Health Intervenors, including the American Lung Association, presented oral arguments before the United States Court of Appeals in a landmark case against the tobacco industry.

The plaintiff-intervenors (Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and National African-American Tobacco Prevention Network) argued today that the Court of Appeals should permit the District Court to impose a broad range of remedies against the tobacco industry.

The American Lung Association maintains that Judge Kessler was well within her authority to prohibit the companies from using “light,” “low-tar” and other phrases designed intentionally to mislead the public—despite the tobacco industry’s subsequent request to continue to use these deceitful phrases abroad.

Following Judge Gladys Kessler’s August 2006 ruling that cigarette companies had violated civil racketeering laws (RICO) and had defrauded the American public by lying for decades about the health risks of smoking and their marketing to children, the judge stated she was limited in the remedies, i.e. corrective actions, she could impose. Judge Kessler cited that her limitations stemmed from an earlier appeals court ruling that restricts remedies under the civil RICO law, which is one of the issues under appeal.

A ruling favoring public health advocates could have a dramatic impact on public health and potentially prevent millions of lung disease deaths, while also preserving the original intent of the RICO statute.

About the American Lung Association: Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates are currently increasing while other major causes of death are declining. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is “Improving life, one breath at a time.” For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or log on to www.lung.org.