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Justice Department Acts to Enforce Court Order Requiring Continued Disclosure of Tobacco Industry Documents

Statement of Susan M. Liss, Executive Director, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
December 14, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Department of Justice today announced a proposed agreement (consent order) with several tobacco companies that finalizes requirements for the companies to continue disclosing internal industry documents, as ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler in her 2006 judgment that the major tobacco companies have violated civil racketeering laws and engaged in a decades-long scheme to defraud the American people.

The order specifies that the companies provide $6.25 million to the court to improve free public access to the documents via the internet. The work will be carried out by the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library at the University of California-San Francisco.

The order also specifies how tobacco companies are to index the documents so they are accessible for research. It also requires tobacco companies to continue to produce documents to the Minnesota Depository created by Minnesota’s 1998 settlement of its lawsuit against tobacco companies (the companies must also continue posting the documents on their own document websites).

Judge Kessler ordered tobacco companies to continue disclosing internal documents until 2021. This requirement is critical to preventing continued tobacco industry wrongdoing and to exposing and stopping the industry’s efforts to deceive the public and market to children. The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library will become an even more valuable resource for researchers, journalists, regulators and members of the public. The documents provide an important window into what the tobacco industry knows — and tries to hide — about the health harms of its products, how it manipulates its products and how it markets them.