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Tobacco Companies Object to Corrective Statements on Cigarette Packaging

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U.S. tobacco manufacturers objected on Monday to the requirement that they run corrective ads about the dangers of smoking.

They told a federal judge they should not be forced to tell the public they lied about the health effects of “light” cigarettes, or that they manipulated nicotine levels to make cigarettes more addictive, Reuters reports.

In July a federal appeals court upheld a federal judge’s order that requires tobacco manufacturers to run corrective ads about the dangers of smoking. The manufacturers hoped the court would overturn U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler’s order on the grounds it had been superseded by the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate the content, marketing and sale of tobacco products.

The companies said the Act eliminated any reasonable likelihood they would commit future violations, removing the need for corrective advertising. The appeals court, in a 3-0 decision, said the oversight provided by the Act does not replace the judge’s ruling on the need for corrective ads.

In 2006, Judge Kessler ruled that Big Tobacco firms engaged in racketeering, and were likely to do so again in the future. She ordered tobacco companies to stop using terms like “light” and “low tar” to market cigarettes. She said she wanted the tobacco industry to pay for print and broadcast ads, but did not say what corrective statements must be included in them.

A lawyer for several tobacco companies, Noel Francisco, said forcing the manufacturers to advertise these messages would be a violation of their speech rights. “Simply because the court found it, doesn’t mean it can force us to say it,” Francisco told Judge Kessler on Monday. The statements need to be completely factual and non-controversial, he added. Daniel Crane-Hirsch, a Justice Department lawyer, said the proposed statements are factual.

Judge Kessler said she will soon rule on the proposed wording of the statements.

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