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Steven J. Klearman
Steven J. Klearman
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Dept. of Justice Asks Tobacco Companies to Admit Lies

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The Associated Press reports that the Department of Justice wants tobacco companies to fess up, publicly. The government released "corrective statements" that it proposes that tobacco companies should be required to make.

Here are a few of the statements, as reported by the AP:

  • "A federal court is requiring tobacco companies to tell the truth about cigarette smoking. Here’s the truth: … Smoking kills 1,200 Americans. Every day."
  • "We falsely marketed low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes to keep people smoking and sustain our profits."
  • "For decades, we denied that we controlled the level of nicotine delivered in cigarettes," a third statement says. "Here’s the truth. … We control nicotine delivery to create and sustain smokers’ addiction, because that’s how we keep customers coming back."
  • "We told Congress under oath that we believed nicotine is not addictive. We told you that smoking is not an addiction and all it takes to quit is willpower. Here’s the truth: Smoking is very addictive. And it’s not easy to quit."
  • "Just because lights and low tar cigarettes feel smoother, that doesn’t mean they are any better for you. Light cigarettes can deliver the same amounts of tar and nicotine as regular cigarettes."
  • "The surgeon general has concluded" that "children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems and more severe asthma."

Not surprisingly, these statements are met with opposition from the tobacco companies. Phillip Morris wants the Justice Department to water down those corrective statements to comply with an appellate court decision stating that corrective statements must be purely factual and uncontroversial.

The tobacco companies must respond to the proposed statements by March 3.

Credit Pete Yost of AP via MSNBC