“Defendants have marketed and sold their lethal products with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted.”
– U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler in 2006 verdict against cigarette companies
Tobacco’s terrible toll in the United States and around the world is no accident. It stems directly from the tobacco industry’s insidious and even illegal practices.
For decades, the tobacco industry has:
Presented with overwhelming evidence of tobacco industry deception, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler in 2006 issued a landmark verdict that the major cigarette manufacturers are racketeers who engaged in a deadly fraud. In June 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Judge Kessler’s verdict to stand.
In her final opinion, Judge Kessler found that the tobacco companies’ wrongdoing continues:
Their continuing conduct misleads consumers in order to maximize Defendants’ revenues by recruiting new smokers (the majority of whom are under the age of 18), preventing current smokers from quitting, and thereby sustaining the industry.
In the United States alone, the tobacco companies spend $9.5 billion a year – $1 million every hour – to market their products, much of it in ways that make cigarettes more appealing and affordable to kids. They spend millions more on lobbying and political contributions aimed at defeating tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and other measures to reduce tobacco use.
The 2012 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, found conclusively that tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue using tobacco products. The report found that the scientific evidence "consistently and coherently points to the intentional marketing of tobacco products to youth as being a cause of young people's tobacco use."
The industry has also redoubled its promotion of tobacco products around the world, targeting low- and middle-income countries with limited resources to deal with its deadly products and deceptive marketing.
Tobacco companies seek to legitimize themselves as responsible corporate citizens everywhere they operate, even as they target children, mislead the public and fight efforts to adopt and implement effective measures to reduce tobacco use.
Despite having its marketing curtailed by the 1998 settlement of state lawsuits and new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, the industry constantly seeks new ways to circumvent restrictions:
Tobacco companies spend billions on marketing in convenience stores and other retail outlets, ensuring their products are advertised heavily, placed prominently and priced cheaply to entice kids and discourage current users from quitting.
Tobacco companies have introduced color-coded cigarette packaging to get around the FDA’s ban on the deceptive terms “light and “low-tar.”
The Industry Watch section of our web site reports on how the tobacco industry continues to market and sell its products – and to oppose life-saving policies – without regard for the deadly consequences.