Federal Tobacco Lawsuit Can Bring… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Federal Tobacco Lawsuit Can Bring Fundamental Change in Industry Practices if Fully Funded and Aggressively Pursued

Statement of William V. Corr Executive Vice President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
March 11, 2002

Washington, DC — A U.S. Department of Justice document disclosing the government's proposed remedies in its racketeering lawsuit against the tobacco industry shows that this case holds tremendous potential for bringing about fundamental change in the industry's harmful business practices. If this document is indicative of what the Justice Department believes can be achieved, it is incumbent upon the Department to fully fund and aggressively pursue the lawsuit so the case can realize its potential to reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco use in our nation.

According to today's Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department document calls for restrictions on the marketing, manufacture and sale of tobacco products. While the remedies appear to be strong, the devil will be in the details. Any remedy must be comprehensive and free of the loopholes that the tobacco industry has always been so adept at exploiting in order to continue business as usual. In addition, given its history of trying to defund the lawsuit and then to settle it prematurely, the burden of proof is on the Administration to show that it fully supports the lawsuit and will not settle for anything short of fundamental change in tobacco industry practices.

The federal tobacco lawsuit, filed in September 1999, seeks to hold the tobacco industry legally accountable for decades of illegal and harmful practices, including marketing practices aimed at children and concealing the health risks of its deadly and addictive products. The Justice Department already has a strong case based on previously disclosed industry documents. But the new Justice Department document indicates the case has gotten even stronger with the discovery of fresh and recent evidence of industry wrongdoing. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department's document cites a secret tobacco industry study conducted 'as recently as May 1997… on Brand Preferences Among Young Smokers' that surveyed smokers 12 to 20 years old. This indicates that, even as they were negotiating with the state attorneys general to settle state lawsuits and impose marketing restrictions on the industry, the tobacco companies were continuing to research the most effective ways to market to kids. This is further evidence that the industry cannot be trusted and that any remedy to the federal lawsuit must be strong and free of loopholes.