Can Big Tobacco be forced to admit that they manipulated nicotine levels to make cigarettes more addictive, or that they lied about the health effects of cigarettes – even if it is true?
“Simply because a court found it, doesn’t mean it can force us to say it,” a lawyer who represents several tobacco companies told a federal judge at recent hearing.
Tobacco companies have been fighting the Justice Department for six years on the wording of “corrective statements,” that are part of a penalty they must pay after an historic 2006 ruling by a U.S. district judge found that the tobacco industry had misled the public for decades. The statements are slated to eventually run in newspaper ads and other venues.
According to the Associated Press, the Justice Department’s proposed statements would cover areas such as the lack of health benefits from “low-tar” or “mild” cigarettes and the negative effects of second-hand smoke. These labels are different than the ones run on U.S. cigarette packaging and from the graphic labels proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The industry claims that the government can’t mandate them to admit they manipulated cigarette ingredients and lied to the public because it is a violation of free speech rights. Even though an appeals court upheld the 2006 court ruling, the industry maintains it shouldn’t be forced to admit to something it doesn’t believe to be true.
A Justice Department attorney told the Associated Press that tobacco companies would love the statements to be watered-down, generic health warnings. “These companies don’t want people to know what they’ve done … They would like to erase history.”
Once again, Big Tobacco is trying to rewrite its sordid history of lies and deceptions that have lead to the deaths of countless people in the United States. If you have been sickened, or have lost a loved one, due to tobacco products, the Jacksonville tobacco litigation attorneys at Farah & Farah can outline your legal options and explain how you can proceed with your case. Call us at (800) 533-3555 for a no-obligation consultation.