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 of the corrective statements ordered by the court and, in 2016, the district court affirmed the publication of the corrective statements.

Finally, in October 2017, the tobacco companies and U.S. Department of Justice reached an agreement on the details for implementing the corrective statements, which must begin to run on November 26, 2017. The agreement specifies the corrective statements that will be used in television and newspaper advertisements. To ensure the corrective statement are effective in reaching the public, the statements must be in the print and online Sunday edition of newspapers; must air on major television networks during high viewing times; and must appear in both English and Spanish. 


United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 99-CV-2496 (2017).

  • United States
  • Oct 5, 2017
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia


Plaintiff 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
  • Lorillard Tobacco Company
  • Philip Morris USA, Inc., et al.
  • R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

Third Party

  • American Cancer Society
  • American Heart Association
  • Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights
  • ITG Brands LLC
  • 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