U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler found that the government had proved its case that accused cigarette makers of a decades-long conspiracy to hide the dangers of smoking.
But Kessler said a previous ruling by an appeals court prevented her from slapping the companies with monetary penalties such as funding a large anti-smoking campaign, as the government had sought.
“Cigarette smoking causes disease, suffering, and death. Despite internal recognition of this fact, defendants have publicly denied, distorted, and minimized the hazards of smoking for decades,” she said in the 1,653-page opinion.
She ordered the companies to make corrective statements about the health effects and addictiveness of smoking, and banned them from using terms describing cigarettes in ways that convey health claims.
Targeted in the 1999 lawsuit were Altria Group Inc. and its Philip Morris USA unit; Loews Corp.’s Lorillard Tobacco unit, which has a tracking stock, Carolina Group; Vector Group Ltd.’s Liggett Group; Reynolds American Inc.’s R.J. Reynolds Tobacco unit and British American Tobacco Plc unit British American Tobacco Investments Ltd.