Mar. 18 2003
Washington, D.C. — New documents filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in its racketeering lawsuit against the tobacco industry explode the myth perpetuated by the tobacco companies that they have changed and put the nation's top law enforcement agency on the record in recognizing that the industry has continued to act lawlessly. The more than 1,400 pages of court filings by the Justice Department document how the major tobacco companies for decades have conspired to deceive the public about the harm caused by tobacco products, worked to discredit scientific studies linking smoking and disease, manipulated their products to make them more addictive, and marketed these deadly products to children. Most important, these documents demonstrate that the tobacco industry's wrongdoing continues today, including its marketing to kids. It speaks volumes about the magnitude of the tobacco industry's wrongdoing that this Administration has made such a powerful case against the industry.
In light of these findings, it is critical that the Department of Justice continue to aggressively pursue this lawsuit on its merits and without political interference. In addition to forcing the industry to give up illegally obtained profits, the strong case laid out by the government has great potential to fundamentally reform the tobacco industry so it no longer markets to kids or engages in other harmful practices.
Among other things, the Justice Department documents show:
This powerful evidence of the tobacco industry's continued marketing to children and other wrongdoing should spur elected officials at all levels to take action to protect our kids and reduce the harm caused by tobacco products. Congress should enact long overdue legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration effective authority over the marketing, manufacturing and sale of tobacco products, including the authority to ban deceptive terms such as "light" and "low-tar." State elected officials should support proven measures to prevent kids from starting to smoke and help smokers quit, including comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation programs and tobacco tax increases. And local elected officials should support comprehensive smoke-free workplace policies. Elected officials should not be protecting the interests of a tobacco industry that the U.S. Department of Justice has found continues to break the law.