United States v. Philip Morris USA
In 1999, the United States filed a lawsuit against the major cigarette manufacturers and related trade organizations alleging that defendants 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 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.
To prevent and restrain future RICO violations, the court provided several forms of injunctive relief including enjoining defendants from (1) committing further acts of racketeering relating to the manufacturing, marketing, promotion, health consequences or sale of cigarettes; (2) making further false, misleading or deceptive statements or representations about cigarettes; and (3) conveying or using any express or implied health message or health descriptor for any cigarette brand including the terms “light” or “low tar.” The court also required defendants to make court-approved corrective statements about the adverse health effects of smoking, the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine, the lack of any significant health benefit from smoking so-called “low tar” cigarettes, defendants’ manipulation of cigarette design to optimize nicotine delivery, and the adverse health effects of tobacco smoke exposure. The court required additional transparency measures of defendants including that defendants provide the government with access to disaggregated data on the marketing of cigarettes for ten years and continue to make public their internal corporate documents produced in U.S.-based smoking and health litigation for 15 years. Last, the court disbanded several tobacco industry trade or research associations.