Changes To The Tobacco Industry

May 23, 2009 12:01:50 PM PDT
Major changes could be coming to cigarette packages and the tobacco industry as a whole, that's because a federal court in Washington has rejected an appeal from big tobacco companies trying to overturn a civil judgment claiming they committed fraud and racketeering.The federal appeals court upheld the 2006 landmark ruling finding the nation's top tobacco companies guilty of racketeering and fraud.

In its decision, the court said evidence revealed that, for decades, while the companies publically denied any adverse health effects "they internally acknowledged as fact that smoking causes disease and others health hazards." David Ogden, Deputy Attorney General said, "Thousands and millions of people were affected by this scheme to deceive the American people."

The ruling means manufacturers will have to change the way they market cigarettes: getting rid of labels such as "low tar, light and mild", since those cigarettes are no safer than others.

The companies would also have to publish "corrective statements" on their websites on the dangers of smoking and nicotine. That, anti-smoking advocates say, could have a profound effect:

Matthew Myers campaign for tobacco-free kids said, "Still today, over 1000 kids become regular smokers every day, this can help change that."

Throughout the 10 years the case has been in the courts, tobacco companies have denied committing fraud. "In a statement Saturday, Phillip Morris and its parent company said they believe the court's conclusions are not supported by the law and that they intend to seek further review." Carla Wohl, ABC news Los Angeles said.

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