Federal Judge Proposes Strong Corrective Statements to Explain the Tobacco Industry’s Decades of Deceit

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 27, 2012 – U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler today ordered corrective statements that are intended to compensate for the tobacco industry’s long history of misleading the public about the dangers of its products and prevent it from committing similar offenses in the future. Tobacco companies are required to include the statements in national broadcast and print advertisements and on corporate websites and cigarette box inserts.

The following is a statement of John R. Seffrin, chief executive of the American Cancer Society and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):

“In a victory for public health, Judge Kessler today released hard-hitting corrective statements that the tobacco industry must make public to explain its decades of dishonesty and prevent future fraud.

“The corrective statements, which are required to appear in national broadcast and print advertisements and on corporate websites and cigarette box inserts, include phrases such as: ‘Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction.’ and ‘All cigarettes cause cancer, lung disease, heart attacks, and premature death – lights, low tar, ultra lights, and naturals. There is no safe cigarette.’

“The corrective statements stem from Judge Kessler’s historic 2006 decision in the Department of Justice (DOJ) case against the tobacco industry, which found the major cigarette manufacturers guilty of violating civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The decision was based on powerful evidence that the industry was well aware that smoking and nicotine are addictive, manipulated its products to maximize addiction and deceptively marketed “light” and “low” tar products as healthy alternatives to regular products despite knowing they were just as deadly.

“For the first time, the American people will hear the truth from the tobacco companies themselves. After more than 50 years of deception, the powerful corrective statements announced today ensure the tobacco industry comes clean to help prevent this type of travesty in the future.

“For too long, the tobacco industry has thrived on the business of addiction by marketing to children and misleading adults about the harms of its deadly products. Tobacco is the most preventable cause of death in this country, responsible for 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of all lung cancer deaths. The strong, evidence-based statements put forth today will educate the public on the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke, while preventing the public from being defrauded by the tobacco industry in the future.

“These corrective statements are even more important following the disappointing ruling from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in August blocking implementation of new graphic warnings on all cigarette packs. Blocking the graphics has resulted in also blocking the updated textual warnings, which haven’t been updated in 25 years. Each day these are not displayed is a significant missed opportunity for stopping the suffering and death caused by the tobacco industry’s products and aggressive marketing practices. Every delay in implementation serves the interests of the tobacco industry at the expense of American lives.

“The tobacco industry is guilty of knowingly and willfully deceiving the American public about the hazards of its products, and the corrective statements announced today reflect that fact. We are grateful for Judge Kessler’s recognition of the corrective statements’ power in setting the record straight and keeping it that way with the American people and we are hopeful that the industry will take this new opportunity to communicate with the American public in a truthful way about the harms of smoking without further delay.”

The American Cancer Society and five other public health groups – Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund and National African American Tobacco Prevention Network – are intervenors in the federal case, which was filed by DOJ in 1999 to hold the tobacco industry accountable for more than 50 years of fraudulent and deceptive marketing practices.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org<http://www.acscan.org>.

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