- Companies must admit to dangers of smoking and disclose smoking’s heath effects including death of 1,200 people a day
- Judge ruled that prepared statements are factual and not controversial
PUBLISHED: 18:26 EST, 27 November 2012 | UPDATED: 18:54 EST, 27 November 2012
In an embarrassing turnaround a federal judge has ordered Tobacco companies to admit having deliberately deceived the U.S. public about the danger and addictiveness of cigarettes in self-paid advertisements.
The companies must admit having lied about the dangers of smoking, disclose the harmful health effects and admit their products’ responsibility for the death of 1,200 people a day, according to the ruling.
After finding the companies having violated federal racketeering law, Tuesday’s decision aimed to finalize the advertisements’ wording first ordered by the U.S. District Court judge in 2006.
Tobacco companies fought a public admission of deception, calling it a violation of their free speech rights.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler rejected the companies’ position, finding that the final wording – which the companies and the U.S. Justice Department have fought over for years – is factual and not controversial.
There are five different statements that the companies will be required to advertise.
Among them is a statement that second-hand smoke kills more than 3,000 Americans a year.
Another begins: ‘A federal court has ruled that the defendant tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public by falsely selling and advertising low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes.’
‘A federal court has ruled that the defendant tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public by falsely selling and advertising low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes’
– one mandated statement
The advertisements will be placed in media that are still to be determined, and they will be different from the warning labels that already are on tobacco products.
‘The government regularly requires wrongdoers to make similar disclosures in a number of different contexts,’ Kessler wrote, calling the language ‘basic, uncomplicated’.
A spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department, which had urged the strong language, had no immediate comment.
Two of the largest companies, Altria Group Inc and Reynolds American Inc, did not immediately return messages requesting comment.
The companies could continue to fight the language with another appeal in a case that began in 1999 with the government’s racketeering charges.