Tobacco Industry Found Guilty of Racketeering
- The Hazards of Smoking: Judge Kessler found that the industry had known for 50 years that cigarette smoking caused diseases, but repeatedly denied the adverse health effects. “They mounted a coordinated, well financed, sophisticated public relations campaign to attack and distort the scientific evidence demonstrating the relationship between smoking and disease.”
- Addiction: Judge Kessler concluded that the tobacco industry had known for 40 years that nicotine in tobacco causes cigarettes to be addictive but also withheld information about their research from the American public. “For approximately 40 years, Defendants publicly, vehemently, and repeatedly denied the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine’s central role in smoking.”
- Nicotine Levels: Judge Kessler concluded that tobacco manufacturers control nicotine levels in cigarettes to ensure that smokers become and stay addicted. “The words of Defendants themselves establish that the goal of their extensive efforts…to control the levels of nicotine delivery was to ensure that smokers obtain sufficient nicotine to create and sustain addiction.”
- Light Cigarettes: The tobacco companies misled consumers into believing that so-called low tar and light cigarettes are healthier than other cigarettes and an acceptable alternative to quitting.
- Marketing to Youth: Judge Kessler concluded that tobacco companies create sophisticated marketing campaigns to get young people to start and continue smoking, so as to replace those who die or quit. “The evidence is clear and convincing- and beyond any reasonable doubt – that Defendants have marketed to young people 21 and under while consistently, publicly, and falsely, denying they do so.”
- Secondhand Smoke: Judge Kessler concluded that the tobacco industry has long known that secondhand smoke is hazardous to non-smokers and were aware that this information could harm their profits. They therefore sought to undermine and suppress research and trivialize it in the mind of the public. Judge Kessler pointed out that this effort to minimize the effects of secondhand smoke continues to this day.
- Suppression of Information: Judge Kessler concluded that for over 50 years the tobacco industry tried to protect itself from litigation by concealing research, destroying documents, and trying to shield documents from the public by pretending that they were “privileged” and protected by law.
More information on this case is available at: Tobacco Law Center