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Big Tobacco Fights Disclosure of Low-Tar Dangers

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 10:08 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Big Tobacco, Product Liability, Wrongful Death, Fraud, Negligence, Flavored Tobacco, FDA, Reynolds, Altria, RICO

Big Tobacco wants the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit a ban on using the words "light" and "low tar" to advertise cigarettes.


IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ Marlboro cigarettes/ author: bachmont

U.S. Supreme Court Appeal

Major cigarette makers plan to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider a May ruling that banned using words such a “light” and “low-tar” to sell cigarettes, and required them to disclose the dangers of smoking.

Altria Group Inc., Reynolds American Inc., and other makers want a federal court in Washington to delay implementing a May 22 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington which upheld a 2006 ruling which found the companies were guilty of violating federal racketeering laws by conspiring to lie about the dangers of smoking and were likely to do so in the future unless the court intervened.

The appeals court also wants the tobacco companies to publish statements that correct previous misstatements about addiction, smoking dangers, second-hand smoke dangers, and the dangers of “light” and “low-tar” cigarettes.

Omitting the descriptors would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and would “fundamentally alter the business landscape,” the cigarette makers argued.

This is the second time Big Tobacco has made that request to delay implementing the lower court ruling. On September 22, the appeals court denied the request, reports Reuters.

Corporate Free Speech?

The major tobacco companies say the high court should consider open issues – The First Amendment free speech rights they enjoy; whether they should have been charged with racketeering; and whether the FDA’s takeover that now regulates tobacco deprives the court of jurisdiction.

The companies appealing to the high court include Altria Group Inc and its Philip Morris USA unit, British American Tobacco Plc, Lorillard Inc, and Reynolds American Inc and RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co.

The Clinton Administration originally filed the case a decade ago.

It was seeking nearly $300 billion in damages. Ontario, Canada has sued to recover about $46 billion in damages to taxpayers’ health and the associated costs over the last 50 years. #

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