Cigarette Warnings One Step Closer to Reality

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By Steven M. Sellers

Feb. 9 — Health warnings to smokers came a step closer to reality when a federal trial court ruled in long-running racketeering litigation against tobacco manufacturers that only the preamble to the warnings should be changed.

The change to one sentence in the prefatory language—which stated that Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard and Philip Morris “deliberately deceived the American public”—was required on remand from the D.C. Circuit because it focused on the companies' conduct, rather than communicating to consumers about the risks of cigarette smoking, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said Feb. 8 .

Efforts by tobacco companies to further contest the health warnings beyond the preamble were “ridiculous,” the court said, adding that the “Defendants are, once again, attempting to stall any final outcome to this long-standing litigation.” The court also declined the federal government's invitation to expedite implementation of the warnings, which currently must await the exhaustion of all appeals in the litigation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven M. Sellers in Washington at ssellers@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hayes at phayes@bna.com