Public Health Groups File Motion to Intervene in Tobacco Lawsuit

Press Release by American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, National African American Tobacco Prevention Network and Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund

Jun. 29 2005

Washington, DC — Six leading public health organizations today filed a motion in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to intervene in the federal government's lawsuit against the major tobacco companies. The groups are the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network and the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund (a 501(c)(4) organization affiliated with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids).

The motion states that the groups are seeking to intervene "for the sole purpose of advocating remedies that are necessary to address the defendants' wrongful conduct."

The motion argues that the interests of public health organizations and their members are no longer being adequately represented in the case because the government has weakened remedies it is seeking. During recent closing arguments and in a proposed remedies order filed Monday, the government reduced the amount it is asking the tobacco companies to pay for a smoking cessation program from $130 billion over 25 years, as recommended by its expert cessation witness, to $10 billion over five years.

"These groups seek to intervene at this stage of the litigation because the Government recently announced that it has drastically reduced the relief it sought to protect the public health and welfare. As the actions of the government demonstrate, the interests represented by the proposed intervenors are no longer being adequately represented," the motion to intervene states.

The motion emphasizes that the organizations "seek party status in this matter for a limited, yet critical, purpose – i.e., to present to the Court arguments solely on the issue of the appropriate and necessary remedies that should be imposed in this case…. Thus, the proposed intervenors do not seek to enter new evidence into the record, nor will they challenge the admission of evidence already before the Court, or otherwise burden the Court or the existing parties with undue delay."

The organizations ask to submit post-trial opening and reply briefs as to the scope of permissible and appropriate remedies on the same schedule as the Government, which must file these briefs by August 24 and September 19.

The Motion to Intervene and a Memorandum in Support of Motion to Intervene can be found at: http://tobaccofreeaction.org/files/Motion_to_Intervene.pdf.

The organizations seeking to intervene believe that the government has presented a strong case that the tobacco companies have engaged in a decades-long, fraudulent scheme to deceive the American public about the health risks of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, the addictiveness of their products, and their marketing to children. The government has also shown that there is a reasonable likelihood that this wrongdoing will continue. In addition to the smoking cessation proposal, remedies that have been proposed in the case include industry funding of public education campaigns; a prohibition on health-related brand descriptors like "light" and "low-tar;" restrictions on tobacco marketing; public disclosure of industry scientific, marketing and sales data; financial penalties if the tobacco companies fail to reach targets for reducing youth smoking rates; and independent monitoring of the industry's behavior to ensure compliance with any court order and prevent future wrongdoing.

(The public health organizations are being represented by Katherine Meyer and Ethan Eddy of the law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal and by David C. Vladeck of Georgetown University Law Center.)

For further comment, please contact:

American Cancer Society: Colleen Wilber, 202-661-5772

American Heart Association: Charles Hodges, 703-967-5232

American Lung Association: Diane Maple, 202-785-3355

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights: Cynthia Hallett, 510-841-3045

National African American Tobacco Prevention Network: Kim Rosier, 407-708-1811 or 386-589-6120

Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund: Nicole Yazdanseta, 202-296-5469

 

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