State of Vermont v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

In Vermont, a tobacco company advertised a "non-traditional 'potentially reduced exposure product' (PREP) cigarette," which heated but did not burn the tobacco within it. Based on several short-term and small-sample studies funded by the tobacco industry, the tobacco manufacturer marketed this cigarette as a healthier option for current smokers, going so far as to claim that this cigarette "may present less risk of cancer, chronic bronchitis, and possibly emphysema" compared to other cigarettes on the market. The tobacco manufacturer pursued an extensive print and online advertising campaign despite knowing: 1. a majority of consumers would gloss over the word "may" and would see this cigarette as a healthy alternative, 2. there exists a consensus in the scientific community that there is no such thing as a "safe cigarette," and 3. that no study has found that smoking "light," "ultra-light," or other reduced exposure cigarettes is associated with a decrease in the risk of contracting any tobacco-related disease. Due to insufficient scientific evidence to substantiate the health claims in the advertisement and the manufacturer's proven knowledge of the three points above, the Court found that the tobacco manufacturer had violated the Federal Trade Commission Advertising Substantiation Guidelines, the Vermont Consumer Fraud Act, and the manufacturer's responsibilities under the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). The Court fined the manufacturer over $8.32 million for making over 6,776 "deliberate, unsubstantiated, and deceptive health marketing claims and statements." The Court further issued a permanent injunction against the tobacco manufacturer prohibiting the advertisement of any PREP accompanied by claims of health effects unless a long-term, epidemiological study "unequivocally" supported the claims.


State of Vermont v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. S1087-05 CnC (Pearson, J., June 3, 2013)

  • United States
  • Jun 3, 2013
  • Chittenden Superior Court


Plaintiff State of Vermont

Defendant R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

Legislation Cited

Master Settlement Agreement

FTC Advertising Substantiation Guidelines

Vermont Consumer Fraud Act

Related Documents

Type of Litigation

Tobacco Control Topics

Substantive Issues

Type of Tobacco Product