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.

In 2022, 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 tobacco industry fought the point-of-sale corrective statements in court for 16 years. The corrective statement signs negotiated by the parties will be displayed in nearly 200,000 retail stores for 21 months – from October 1, 2023 through June 30, 2025.

In this decision, the court clarified that HeatSticks, consumables for the IQOS heated tobacco brand, fall within the definition of the term “cigarettes”. Therefore, HeatSticks are subject to the same anti-fraud provisions and corrective statements. However, the court explained that HeatSticks do not have to abide by the same market restrictions as some of the cigarette brands; meaning that Philip Morris may include FDA-authorized reduced-exposure claims on HeatSticks advertising materials.

Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund was one of several public health intervenors.


United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 99-CV-2496 (PLF) (2023).

  • United States
  • Jul 14, 2023
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia


Plaintiff United States of America

Defendant Philip Morris USA, Inc., 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