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Federal Appeals Court Rejects Tobacco Industry Effort to Escape Corrective Actions for Violating Racketeering Laws

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
July 27, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today delivered a victory for public health by rejecting the tobacco industry's attempt to escape any corrective actions despite a judgment that they have violated civil racketeering laws and defrauded the American people for decades. The court rejected the tobacco companies' spurious argument that no court-ordered remedies are needed because the 2009 federal law granting the FDA authority over tobacco products precludes the industry from violating racketeering laws in the future. Today's ruling is an important step to hold the tobacco industry accountable for decades of deadly deception and prevent such deception in the future.

The court rightly concluded that, given the tobacco companies' long history of violating legal restrictions on their conduct, there is no reason to assume they will comply with the law in the future. The court noted 'the defendants' history of non-compliance with various legal requirements' and concluded that U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ruled correctly 'in finding the defendants' still exhibited a reasonable likelihood of committing future RICO violations.'

This ruling clears the way for Judge Kessler to move forward quickly in implementing the remedies she ordered in 2006 when she issued her landmark judgment that the tobacco companies are racketeers who have engaged in a decades-long conspiracy to deceive the American public and target children with their deadly and addictive products. Judge Kessler required the tobacco companies to make corrective statements about the health risks of smoking and secondhand smoke and their deceptive practices through newspaper and television advertising, on their web sites and on cigarette packaging. She also ordered the tobacco companies to report marketing data annually to the government, extended and expanded current requirements that the cigarette manufacturers make public their internal documents produced in litigation, and prohibited the companies from committing acts of racketeering or making false, misleading or deceptive statements about cigarettes and their health risks in the future.

In a separate opinion, the court upheld Judge Kessler's requirement that the tobacco companies disclose marketing data to the government.

Six public health organizations are parties to the case: The American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, 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 affiliate of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids).''