Judge: Tobacco Companies Have To Admit They Deceived Public

In 2006, a U.S. District Court judge in Washington ruled that Big Tobacco had violated federal racketeering laws and engaged in a long-term scheme to deceive the public about the risks of smoking and nicotine’s addictiveness. Today, that same judge ordered those companies to issue declare this deception publicly.

The statements — themselves a matter of legal dispute for the past six years — cover a variety of topics.

“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,” reads one of the statements, which are to be made available through a variety of media. The actual budgets and timeline are still to be determined.

“Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day,” reads another.

Another one reads, “Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction.”

And then there’s “When you smoke, the nicotine actually changes the brain—that’s why quitting is so hard.”

The judge decided on these final statements, saying they deal purely with facts presented in the case.

“The government regularly requires wrongdoers to make similar disclosures in a number of different contexts,” explained the judge.

The tobacco companies involved in the settlement, including Reynolds, Philip Morris, Lorillard, could appeal the ruling. And we wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

Just for giggles, let’s revisit that day in April 1994, when executives from the nation’s largest tobacco companies sat before a Congressional panel and, one by one, asserted their personal belief that nicotine is not addictive: