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After battling for nearly two decades, cigarette makers are finally being forced to add new warning labels that reflect the outcome of the case over "low-tar" and "light" cigarettes. The 1999 case found that cigarette makers, including R.J. Reynolds and Phillip Morris, had conspired to deceive the public as to the negative health effects of smoking.
Today, it is well known that there is no such thing as a "safe cigarette," and that "light" cigarettes are not any healthier. However, when "lights" and "low-tar" varieties were released, the cigarette industry promoted these as safer, despite knowing this to be false. This case exposed the deception and ordered cigarette makers to issue corrective statements publicly in newspapers, online, on TV, and even on the packaging, about the negative health effects of smoking.
The warnings that the court ordered be placed on cigarette packs included specific language that the manufacturers' lawyers have been fighting over for the last decade. Since 2006, the final ruling on the exact wording, and other requirements, were held up due to several appeals.
When push came to shove, the phrase "here is the truth" was the final sticking point. A federal appeals court ruled that by removing that phrase from the warnings, the remainder of language would be permissible. To avoid further delays in having these warnings added, the lower federal district court judge followed the appellate court's instructions and struck that phrase. In doing so, the court ordered that a specific list of corrective statements start being used immediately.
In ordering the corrective statements, the court found four separate categories where this was necessary due to the manufacturers' liability. The categories include:
Within each category, the court has ordered factual statements be made relating to the negative health effects or the deception by the manufacturers. Some statements include:
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