WASHINGTON, DC | May 4, 2022
Today, the parties to the federal government’s long-running racketeering lawsuit against the major U.S. tobacco companies told the court that they have reached an agreement in principle that will require the companies to place “corrective statements” about the health risks of smoking and secondhand smoke in retail outlets that sell cigarettes. Once this agreement is finalized and approved by the court, it will require the tobacco companies to display court-ordered statements that tell the truth about the deadly consequences of smoking near cigarette displays in hundreds of thousands of retail outlets across the country. These statements are intended to prevent and restrain future fraud by an industry that lied to the American people for decades. It’s important for consumers to know the truth about the industry’s deception and manipulation of their products and to get this information at the point where the purchase decision is made.
The parties to the case – the U.S. Department of Justice, the tobacco companies and our six public health intervenors – filed a joint motion today with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that briefly describes the terms of the agreement, which will soon be put in final form and submitted to the court for review and approval.
This agreement will resolve the biggest remaining legal issue in the longstanding tobacco racketeering lawsuit and fully implement the corrective statements U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ordered in 2006 when she issued her landmark judgment against the major tobacco companies. Judge Kessler found that the tobacco companies had violated civil racketeering laws (RICO) and engaged in a decades-long conspiracy to deceive the American public about the health effects of smoking and their marketing to children. To prevent and restrain future RICO violations, Judge Kessler ordered the tobacco companies to publish corrective statements that tell the American public the truth about the adverse health effects of smoking and secondhand smoke.
The corrective statements have previously been published through newspaper and television advertisements and cigarette pack inserts, and they continue to appear on tobacco company websites. However, the tobacco companies and various trade associations representing cigarette retailers have challenged Judge Kessler’s requirement that the corrective statements also be displayed at retail points-of-sale, such as convenience stores and tobacco outlets. The proposed agreement would resolve that issue.
Learn more about the federal government’s racketeering lawsuit and Judge Kessler’s 2006 judgment.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
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