United States v. Philip Morris USA, et al.

In 1999, the United States filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the major cigarette manufacturers and related trade organizations alleging that defendants, while acting as an enterprise, fraudulently misled American consumers for decades about the risks and dangers of cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke in violation of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). In 2006, the court found that defendants violated civil provisions of RICO and that there was a reasonable likelihood that defendants would continue to violate RICO in the future. On appeal, the district court’s findings were upheld, in part, vacated, in part, and remanded, in part, to the district court. After the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from both sides in the case in June 2010, the district court began to implement the 2006 final order.

As a means of preventing future RICO violations, the district court ordered the tobacco companies to issue corrective statements on five topics in which they had misled the public, including the adverse health effects of smoking and the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine. The companies challenged the language and form of the corrective statements. In this decision, the Court of Appeals found that the tobacco companies had waived their right to challenge the wording of the corrective statements. However, the court found that an introduction to the corrective statements (explaining that a federal court has ruled that tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public) exceeded the scope of scope of remedies allowed under RICO. Finally, the court found that tobacco companies had waived their right to challenge the distribution of corrective statements via company websites, cigarette packages, and newspaper and television ads.


United States v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., et al., No. 1:99–cv-02496, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (May 22, 2015).

  • United States
  • May 22, 2015
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit



  • United States Department of Justice
  • United States of America


  • Altria Group, formerly Philip Morris Companies Inc.
  • American Tobacco Company, Directly and as Successor to the Tobacco Interest of American Brands
  • Philip Morris USA, Inc., formerly known as Philip Morris Incorporated, et al.
  • Smithkline Beecham Corp., doing business as GlaxoSmithKline, et al.

Third Party

  • American Cancer Society
  • American Heart Association
  • Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights
  • National African American Tobacco Prevention Network
  • Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund

Legislation Cited

Related Documents

Type of Litigation

Tobacco Control Topics

Substantive Issues

Type of Tobacco Product