Yourlawyer.com (Light Cigarettes News) http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/light_cigarettes Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:42:40 -0500 Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:42:40 -0500 pixel-app en Judge Grants Parker Waichman LLP Motion to Remand Marlboro Lights Cigarette Lawsuit http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/judge-grants-parker-waichman-alonso-motion-to-remand-marlboro-lights-cigarette-lawsuit Tue, 13 Dec 2011 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/judge-grants-parker-waichman-alonso-motion-to-remand-marlboro-lights-cigarette-lawsuit A federal judge has granted Parker Waichman LLP's motion to suggest that a light cigarette class action lawsuit it filed on behalf of a New York man be remanded back to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  The lawsuit, Bryant Tang vs. Philip Morris, USA, alleges purchasers of Marlboro Lights suffered economic damages as a result of misrepresentations made by Philip Morris and Altria Group about the cigarettes.

The Tang lawsuit was one of several consolidated in a multidistrict litigation before John A. Woodcock, Jr., Chief District Judge for the U.S. District Court, District of Maine.  On November 24, 2010, Judge Woodcock denied class certification to four test cases submitted in the multidistrict litigation, finding non-commonality. Defendants then sought to apply Judge Woodcock's ruling to dismiss complaints remaining in the multidistrict litigation, including the Tang lawsuit.

Parker Waichman LLP opposed the dismissal and moved to have the Tang lawsuit remanded back to the Eastern District of New York, asserting that Section 349 of New York State's General Business Law provides a common element of damages applicable to all New York class members.

In an order issued yesterday, Judge Woodcock refused to dismiss any of the remaining lawsuits. He also granted the Parker Waichman LLP’s Motion to Suggest Remand of the Tang lawsuit to the Eastern District of New York.  The final decision on whether to remand the complaint will be made by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.




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Colon Cancer Risk Increases With Smoking http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/colon-cancer-risk-increases-with-smoking Fri, 04 Dec 2009 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/colon-cancer-risk-increases-with-smoking cigarette smoking, an emerging study has found stronger evidence linking cigarette smoking to colorectal cancer, said Science Daily.

"This provides one more reason not to smoke, or to quit as soon as possible," said senior author Michael J. Thun, M.D., M.S., vice president emeritus, epidemiology and surveillance research at the American Cancer Society, quoted Science Daily. "Colorectal cancer should be added to the list of cancers caused by smoking." Study findings are published in the December issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Dr. Thun and his team tested the link between long-term smoking and colorectal cancer, after adjustments were made for a variety of other factors generally connected to the link, such as screening, said Science Daily. The team followed about 185,000 people from 50 to 74 years of age from 1992 through 2005, said Science Daily; participants provided medical information and information on behaviors.

Those who smoked at least 40 years and who did not quit smoking before the age of forty experienced 30-to-50 percent-increased chances of developing colon or rectal cancer during the follow-up, said Science Daily. Dr, Thun said the analysis adjusted for 13 other possible risk factors. Researchers found nearly 2,000 cases—1,962 in all—of invasive colorectal cancer after 13 years, said Science Daily.

According to Thun, this study is the fist to include controls for screening and other colorectal cancer screens, citing, for example, drinking alcohol, consuming red or processed meat, and inactivity, explained Science Daily. "These findings contributed to the evidence recently reviewed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in October of this year," Thun said, quoted Science Daily. "IARC upgraded the evidence that smoking causes colorectal cancer from 'limited' to 'sufficient,'" Thun added. This reclassification raises the number of organ areas “casually related” to cigarette smoking to 17 and includes: “Cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, nasopharynx, nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses, larynx, lung, esophagus (both squamous cell and adenocarcinoma), stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney (both renal cell and transitional cell carcinoma), urinary bladder and lower urinary tract, uterine, cervix, and myeloid leukemia,” said Science Daily.

We recently wrote that research concluded that just one cigarette can adversely affect young adults, citing Science Daily previously. Just one cigarette can increase arterial stiffness in people 18 to 30 years of age by a surprising 25 percent, according to Science Daily. Stiff—or rigid—arteries can lead to cardiac issues because vessel resistance is increased and the heart has to work harder, which can lead to heart disease and stroke risk.

There are about 443,000 deaths and $100 billion spent in healthcare costs annually in the United States linked to tobacco use. A prior Associated Press (AP) report noted that over 126 million nonsmokers in this country are exposed to tobacco smoke on an ongoing basis and, in 2006, the Surgeon General announced that “overwhelming scientific evidence” was associated with tens of thousands of fatalities from cardiac disease, lung cancer, and other deadly diseases due to second- and third-hand smoke.

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Florida Tobacco Lawsuit Results in $300 Million Jury Award to Ex-Smoker http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/florida-tobacco-lawsuit-results-in-300-million-jury-award-to-ex-smoker Mon, 23 Nov 2009 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/florida-tobacco-lawsuit-results-in-300-million-jury-award-to-ex-smoker tobacco lawsuit trial has ended with a jury awarding $300 million to a former smoker who now suffers from emphysema.  The award is the largest in a Florida tobacco lawsuit to date, according to the Associated Press.

The lawsuit was one of roughly 8,000 pending in Florida that was spawned by Engle vs. Liggett.  The 1994 class action lawsuit involved thousands of Florida smokers and their families who were seeking compensation from tobacco companies for the injuries they sustained from smoking. In 1999, a jury agreed that cigarette makers deceived smokers about the safety of their product, and awarded $145 billion in punitive damages to the plaintiffs.  But a Florida appeals court reversed the decision in 2003.

In 2006, the Florida Supreme Court refused to reinstate the punitive damages and stripped the lawsuit of its class-action status. However, the court allowed individuals who could have won judgments under the original verdict to use findings from the yearlong jury trial – including that cigarettes are addictive and cause cancer – to bring new cases against the cigarette makers. In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the tobacco companies’ appeal of the Florida court’s decision, setting the stage for a deluge of tobacco injury lawsuits in the state.

According to the Associated Press, the plaintiff in this latest Florida tobacco lawsuit was a 61-year-old woman who began smoking in 1968, at age 20.  After several attempts to quit, she stopped smoking in 1993 with the aid of a nicotine patch.  She requires 24-hour oxygen and must travel in a wheelchair because walking leaves her exhausted.

Last week, a Florida jury agreed that the woman's illness was the result of negligence on the part of Philip Morris USA, a unit of Altria Group Inc.  The company was ordered to pay $56 million in compensatory and $244 million in punitive damages

Richard A. Daynard, professor of law at Northeastern University and chairman of the Tobacco Products Liability Project, told the Associated Press that the large verdict could encourage other Florida juries to reach similar decisions.  "I think Philip Morris has finally met its match in Florida. This gives jurors permission to fully compensate plaintiffs for all the harm they suffered and to express their moral outrage at the industry's behavior, " Daynard said.

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FDA Bans Flavored Cigarettes http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/fda-bans-flavored-cigarettes Wed, 23 Sep 2009 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/fda-bans-flavored-cigarettes cigarettes that contain fruit, candy, or clove flavoring. The ban, authorized by the new Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, is part of a national effort by the FDA to reduce smoking in America. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in America.

The FDA's ban on candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes highlights the importance of reducing the number of children who start to smoke, and who become addicted to dangerous tobacco products. The FDA is also examining options for regulating both menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco products other than cigarettes.

"Almost 90 percent of adult smokers start smoking as teenagers. These flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. "The FDA will utilize regulatory authority to reduce the burden of illness and death caused by tobacco products to enhance our Nation's public health."

Flavors make cigarettes and other tobacco products more appealing to youth. Studies have shown that 17-year-old smokers are three times likelier to use flavored cigarettes as smokers over the age of 25.1. "Flavored cigarettes attract and allure kids into lifetime addiction," said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, M.D., M.P.H. "FDA's ban on these cigarettes will break that cycle for the more than 3,600 young people who start smoking daily."

The FDA is taking several steps to enforce the ban. A letter recently sent to the tobacco industry provided information about the law, and explained that any company who continues to make, ship, or sell such products may be subject to FDA enforcement actions. The FDA has also made an advisory available to parents on the risks associated with flavored tobacco products. "Youth are twice as likely to report seeing advertising for these flavored products as adults are," said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a pediatrician and the FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner. "Marketing campaigns for products with sweet candy and fruit flavors can mislead young people into thinking that these products are less addictive and less harmful."

The FDA encourages consumers to report continuing sales of flavored cigarettes through a special tobacco hotline (1-877-CTP-1373) and Web site (www.fda.gov/flavoredtobacco). Parents and consumers can learn more about the risks of flavored tobacco products at www.fda.gov/

President Barack Obama signed The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law in late June to allow the federal government broad authority over tobacco products and regulators to control cigarette packaging and marketing and how much nicotine—the addictive component in cigarettes—is added to such products, explained the Washington Post previously. There are about 443,000 deaths and $100 billion in healthcare costs linked to tobacco use in the United States every year. According to an earlier USA Today piece, President Obama said he is hoping to cut down the number of teens each day—estimated at about 1,000—who take up smoking. "I was one of these teenagers. And so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it's been with you for a long time," said Obama, quoted USA Today.

According to the LA Times previously, citing the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about one-third—30 percent—of “youth” smokers will die prematurely from a “smoking-related disease” and those who begin smoking before they are 21 years of age have the most difficult time quitting. The NIH reports that about 25 percent of all U.S. high school students smoke, said the LA Times.

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Big Tobacco Loses Another Appeal http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/big-tobacco-loses-another-appeal Tue, 26 May 2009 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/big-tobacco-loses-another-appeal
The original 2006 case had resulted in a lower court banning labels such as "low tar" and "light" for cigarettes.  At the time, the court found that tobacco firms had conspired through a "gentlemen's agreement" not to compete over whose cigarettes were the least damaging to health.   Defendants in the case included Altria Group Inc.'s, Philip Morris subsidiary, Reynolds American Inc., British American Tobacco PLC  and Lorillard Inc, Dow Jones said.

In addition to banning labels like "low tar" for cigarettes, the 2006 decision also required manufacturers to issue corrective statements about the dangers of their products, which would appear on television, newspapers, product packaging and countertop displays in retail outlets.

In their appeal, the tobacco companies argued that the original decision was not supported by the law or the evidence presented at trial.  But for the most part, the appeals panel rejected those arguments, Dow Jones said.  In their  92-page ruling, the judges said that  tobacco firms "knew about the negative health consequences of smoking, the addictiveness and manipulation of nicotine, the harmfulness of secondhand smoke, and the concept of smoker compensation, which makes light cigarettes no less harmful than regular cigarettes and possibly more."

According to Dow Jones, the panel upheld the restrictions on tobacco marketing and the corrective statement requirement. However, the judges rejected efforts to force the tobacco industry to fund a $10 billion national smoking-cessation campaign, and it affirmed an earlier ruling that  at the government couldn't force the tobacco companies to forfeit up to $280 billion in profits.

The decision could be appealed, either to the full appeals court, or the U.S. Supreme Court,  Dow Jones said.

This is the second important  appeal the tobacco industry has lost in recent months.  Late last year, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1965 Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act does not protect cigarette makers from fraud lawsuits over how those makers market cigarettes they describe as “light” or “low tar.” Also, the high court said federal oversight of cigarette testing did not preclude those lawsuits.  

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House Approves FDA Tobacco Regulation Bill http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/house-approves-fda-tobacco-regulation-bill Thu, 02 Apr 2009 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/house-approves-fda-tobacco-regulation-bill
According to Bloomberg News, the measure passed 298-112.  If it does become law, the FDA would have the authority to set nicotine levels in tobacco products. It also would put new curbs on flavored cigarettes and require new, larger warning labels on the front and back of cigarette packs.  Under the law, the FDA could also prevent  cigarettes from being advertised as "light", "low tar" and "mild", and could restrict cigarette advertising to simple black and white ads, The Wall Street Journal said.

The law was introduced in response to a Supreme Court decision from 2000 that said the FDA didn’t have the authority to regulate tobacco without an act of congress.  Tobacco giant Philip Morris supports the legislation, but according to The New York Times, others in the industry are opposed.

Because of that, the bill could have a difficult time making it through the Senate.  According to The New York Times, Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina, the nation’s leading tobacco producing state, has threatened a filibuster.  

Similar legislation was approved by the House of Representatives last year, but it was never considered by the Senate.  According to the Times, that legislation also faced filibuster threats, as well as a promise by President Bush to veto it.

But the new administration of President Barack Obama supports FDA oversight of tobacco.  On Wednesday, the administration released a statement announcing that it backed the House bill.

"Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and is a contributing factor to scores of diseases and conditions inflicting misery upon millions of our citizens,” the administration statement said. “Further, tobacco use is a major factor driving the increasing costs of health care in the U.S. and accounts for over a hundred billion dollars annually in financial costs to the economy.”

According to The New York Times, Senator Burr has introduced an alternative bill that would promote “reduced risk” tobacco products rather than cracking down on new and existing products.

But Democrats are opposed.  They claim Burr's bill would not allow the FDA regulatory authority over tobacco, allow tobacco companies to target children and exempt smokeless tobacco from regulation.

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Philip Morris Bid to Have Punitive Award Reduced in Smoking Death Case Derailed by Supreme Court http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/philip-morris-bid-to-have-punitive-award-reduced-in-smoking-death-case-derailed-by-supreme-court Wed, 01 Apr 2009 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/philip-morris-bid-to-have-punitive-award-reduced-in-smoking-death-case-derailed-by-supreme-court Philip Morris must pay an Oregon widow $79.5 million in punitive damages for her husband's tobacco-related death.

According to Bloomberg.com, Philip Morris could end up paying more than $150 million in damages and interest in the case.  If the full amount is ultimately paid, the Philip Morris judgment would set a record in an individual smoker case, Bloomberg.com said.

The punitive damages in the case, Philip Morris vs. Williams, were in addition to  $821,485 in compensatory damages awarded by an Oregon jury in 1999, Bloomberg.com said.  The Oregon court lowered that amount to $521,485 because of Oregon’s limits on awards.  But with the punitive award, it was the largest verdict ever levied against a tobacco maker up until that time.

The high court's decision has come as a surprise to many, as the justices had twice sent the case back to the Oregon Supreme Court, implying that the damage award was too high, according to a report on SFGate.com.  But both times, the Oregon court allowed the award to stand.   

The second time around, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Oregon court had applied the wrong constitutional standard in reviewing the punitive award, SFGate said.  But  the Oregon Supreme Court then rejected Philip Morris' challenge on the grounds of state law, saying the company's proposed jury instructions nearly 10 years before had been insufficient.  

In appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court for a third time, Philip Morris had asked that the justices "vindicate" their authority because the Oregon court "failed to follow this court's directions."

But in a one-sentence decision, the Supreme Court said it should not have accepted the case for a third time, and dismissed the case as "improvidently granted."  

The ruling is a victory for consumers, and a blow for the business interests that had hoped the Supreme Court would use it as a means of capping punitive damages in lawsuits.

While Philip Morris is now officially on the hook for $150 million in this case, it is unclear how much it will actually pay.  According to Bloomberg.com, the company still has the right to argue at the lower court level that it shouldn’t have to pay the 60 percent of the award that under Oregon law goes to the state.   

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Massachusetts Light Cigarette Lawsuit Moving Forward http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/massachusetts-light-cigarette-lawsuit-moving-forward Tue, 17 Mar 2009 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/massachusetts-light-cigarette-lawsuit-moving-forward Marlboro Lights, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The AP noted that the recent ruling is very similar to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this past December, which allows class-action lawsuit initiated by smokers claiming deceptive marketing.  The high court ruling said the 1965 Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act does not protect cigarette makers from fraud lawsuits over how those makers market cigarettes they describe as “light” or “low tar.”  Also, according to an earlier Bloomberg.com report, the high court said federal oversight of cigarette testing did not preclude those lawsuits.

Millions of Americans have smoked “low-tar,” “mild,” or “light” cigarettes, believing those cigarettes to be less harmful than others; however, many were falsely marketed as “safe” or “harmless.”  As a matter-of-fact, a variety of studies found “light” cigarettes to be as dangerous as other varieties and, even more incriminating, a more than 30-year-old Philip Morris memo from 1975 was made public in 2007 that proved cigarette makers were aware that smokers of light cigarettes took longer puffs and inhaled larger amounts of tar than those who smoked other versions.  The controversy has generated dozens of lawsuits claiming billions of dollars in damages.

The U.S. Supreme Court case allows smokers to use state laws to sue cigarette makers for how they promote so-called "light" and "low tar" cigarettes.  The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, citing the high court decision, said smokers can sue Altria Group Inc.’s Philip Morris for deceptive marketing practices, reported the AP.  The 1998 suit claimed Philip Morris used deceptive marketing because its Marlboro Lights did not provide lower tar and nicotine, said the AP.

Philip Morris had argued that the Massachusetts consumer protection law is pre-empted by the 1965 Act, banning states from regulating any aspect of cigarette advertising involving smoking and health, said the AP.  Philip Morris also argued that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allows the use of terms such as "light" and "lower tar and nicotine" on cigarette packages and claims the Act, which required tobacco companies to place rotating warnings on their packaging and advertising, pre-empted such lawsuits.  Philip Morris stopped using the phrase "lower tar and nicotine" on packages in 2003.

The state’s Supreme Judicial Court said the FTC did not specifically allow those categorizations, saying the labels did little but fool smokers into thinking they faced less of a health risk, the LA Times said in an earlier article.  The FTC allows cigarette companies to use the classifications as long as they are determined by a standardized system that uses a machine that smokes cigarettes the same way every time.  But people are not like machines, and some take deeper breaths and larger puffs than others.  It is also well-recognized that smokers who switch from regular to light cigarettes “compensate” for the decreased nicotine by inhaling more deeply; taking larger, more rapid, or more frequent puffs; or increasing the number of cigarettes smoked daily, thus negating any potential benefit of smoking a “low-tar” cigarette.  The FTC itself has raised concerns about its testing methods and has admitted in prior congressional testimony that its “ratings tend to be relatively poor predictors of tar and nicotine exposure.”

Although the lawsuit can proceed, smokers must prove the descriptors violate the state’s consumer protection law, said the AP.

Although only two plaintiffs are involved, they represent a group in the thousands, reported the AP.

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House Votes to Let FDA Regulate Tobacco http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/house-votes-to-let-fda-regulate-tobacco Thu, 05 Mar 2009 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/house-votes-to-let-fda-regulate-tobacco tobacco industry, reported Reuters.  If pending legislation passes, the FDA would be able to regulate tobacco products, including cigarettes and even advertisements and product designs.  Still in proposal stage, the move in a 39 to 13 House vote and now requires Senate approval before being presented to President Barack Obama, said Reuters.

The FDA oversees human and animal medicines, medical devices, many foods, and cosmetics and could be adding the multi-billion dollar industry if the proposal makes it through the Senate.  "Regulating tobacco is the single most important thing that we can do right now to curb the deadly toll of tobacco," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Democratic Representative Henry Waxman, quoted Reuters.  Waxman introduced the bill, which passed in the House, but not in the Senate, last year.

According to Reuters, Democrats said the bill would enable federal oversight of an industry linked to a wide variety of costly, preventable problems that include cancer, heart disease, and lung disorders.  Not to mention legal woes.  Recently, a Florida jury awarded the widow of a chain smoker $8 million for her husband’s death.  In Florida alone, 8000 other tobacco injury lawsuits are slated to go to trial.

If the bill passes, an FDA center funded by user fees from tobacco companies would be established, said Reuters, that would be responsible to “monitor ingredients, inspect manufacturing facilities, and oversee marketing.”  The center would not be responsible for tobacco farming oversight.  The legislation states that the bill’s oversight would save $75 billion in healthcare costs by reducing teen smoking.  

But, some feel that adding new responsibilities just adds more room for error to an agency that cannot seem to handle the industries it is currently charged with, citing the huge and ongoing peanut salmonella scandal and last year’s heparin contamination debacle. "The FDA is the wrong agency at the wrong time to give this type of responsibility," said Texas Republican Representative Joe Barton, according to Reuters.

Industry reaction is mixed, said Reuters.  Massive Altria Group Inc's Philip Morris supports the bill, calling it “tough, but reasonable,” while R.J. Reynolds Tobacco said the bill presents a burden, citing registering and maintaining records with the FDA.  The American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, support the bill, saying in a joint statement with the American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network, and the American Heart Association that, "Until Congress grants the FDA authority over tobacco products, the tobacco companies will continue their harmful practices that addict children and make it difficult for smokers to quit" reported Reuters.

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First Florida Tobacco Trial Ends in $8 Million Award For Plaintiff http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/first-florida-tobacco-trial-ends-in-8-million-award-for-plaintiff Thu, 19 Feb 2009 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/first-florida-tobacco-trial-ends-in-8-million-award-for-plaintiff tobacco injury lawsuits are slated to go to trial.

Florida is the site of so many tobacco lawsuit trails because of  a state Supreme Court decision in the case of Engle vs. Liggett.  The 1994 class action lawsuit involved thousands of Florida smokers and their families who were seeking compensation from tobacco companies for the injuries they sustained from smoking. In 1999, a jury agreed that cigarette makers deceived smokers about the safety of their product, and awarded $145 billion in punitive damages to the plaintiffs.  But a Florida appeals court reversed the decision in 2003.

In 2006, the Florida Supreme Court refused to reinstate the punitive damages and stripped the lawsuit of its class-action status. However, the court allowed individuals who could have won judgments under the original verdict to use findings from the yearlong jury trial - including that cigarettes are addictive and cause cancer - to bring new cases against the cigarette makers. In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the tobacco companies’ appeal of the Florida court’s decision, setting the stage for a deluge of tobacco injury lawsuits in the state.

The Ft. Lauderdale trial that resulted in yesterday's $8 million award was the first tobacco lawsuit stemming from the Engle decision.   As we reported last week, the jury had already ruled that the death of  55-year-old Stuart Hess in 1997 from lung cancer  was the result of his nicotine addiction.  In the second phase of the trial, the jury ordered  Altria's Philip Morris unit to pay his widow $3 million dollars in compensatory damages and another $5 million in punitive damages, The Wall Street Journal said.  

According to Bloomberg.com, antismoking activists are thrilled with the jury's decision.  “We’re delighted that the jury saw through Philip Morris’s attempts to blame the smoker” for his injuries," Ed Sweda, a senior attorney for the Tobacco Products Liability Project at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, told Bloomberg “We’ll certainly be looking forward to the 8,000 other trials.”

They won't have to wait long.  The second such trial is slated to start today in Ft. Lauderdale before the same judge.

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Loss for Cigarette Maker in First Florida Tobacco Trial http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/loss-for-cigarette-maker-in-first-florida-tobacco-trial Fri, 13 Feb 2009 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/loss-for-cigarette-maker-in-first-florida-tobacco-trial tobacco trials in Florida, big tobacco lost.  According to Bloomberg News, a jury made up of three men and three women agreed that deceased smoker Stuart Hess’s nicotine addiction caused his 1997 lung cancer death.  The move is seen as a significant setback for Altria, and its subsidary Philip Morris USA, said Reuters.

A lawyer for Hess’s family and widow said he was pleased with the recent verdict and said the jury will be hearing much more about the damage tobacco has caused in the past few decades, reported Bloomberg News, which noted that, in this case, there are at least two more possible phases to the trial that could involve damage assessments against Altria Group Inc.  Altria is the largest cigarette maker in the United States.

Hess's wife blamed an addiction to nicotine for her husband’s death; Stuart smoked for four decades and died at age 55.  Altria argued that Hess had quit smoking from time-to-time, indicating—it felt—that Hess was really not addicted to nicotine, reported Bloomberg.  Lawyers for the Hess family said that Stuart had tried, but was unable to quit smoking because of his nicotine addiction, said Reuters.

In 1994, thousands of Florida smokers brought the class-action lawsuit against tobacco companies for the injuries they sustained from smoking. In 1999, the jury agreed that cigarette makers deceived smokers about the safety of their product, and awarded $145 billion in punitive damages to the plaintiffs; a Florida appeals court reversed the decision in 2003.

In 2006, the Florida Supreme Court refused to reinstate the punitive damages and stripped the lawsuit of its class-action status; however, the Florida court allowed individuals who could have won judgments under the original verdict to use findings from the yearlong jury trial to bring new cases against the cigarette makers, which means that the smokers will not have to prove the issues in the follow-up cases.

In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the tobacco companies’ appeal of the Florida court’s decision, which was mainly an attempt to prevent Florida smokers from using the 1999 jury findings in their lawsuits. Hess’s case is one of thousands filed following the class-action suit rejection by the Florida Supreme Court.

In the second phase of the Hess trial, which begins today, the jury will be determining if Altria is at fault and if damages should be awarded; the third and final phase will be used to determine punitive damages, said Bloomberg.

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Most Cancer in Men Linked to Smoking http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/most-cancer-in-men-linked-to-smoking Thu, 22 Jan 2009 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/most-cancer-in-men-linked-to-smoking smoking to the vast majority of cancers in a specific demographic of men in 2003, reported ScienceDaily.

Study lead, Bruce Leistikow, UC Davis associate adjunct professor of public health sciences, wrote that over 70 percent of cancer deaths in Massachusetts men—a 24 percent increase over 2001—are associated with tobacco smoking, said ScienceDaily.  "This study provides support for the growing understanding among researchers that smoking is a cause of many more cancer deaths besides lung cancer.  The full impacts of tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke, have been overlooked in the rush to examine such potential cancer factors as diet and environmental contaminants.  As it turns out, much of the answer was probably smoking all along," quoted ScienceDaily.  Leistikow’s research is focused on learning more about the causes linked to early death.

For his study, Leistikow used National Center for Health Statistics data and looked at the demographic of Massachusetts men.  Leistikow then compared lung cancer death rates to death rates for all other cancers.  The review revealed that the two rates of cancer deaths—lung cancer and all other cancers—changed collaboratively for each year from 1979 to 2003, said ScienceDaily, which noted that the strongest link occurred among men aged 30-to-74.

While it is an accepted fact that smoking causes most lung cancers, the research team found that during the 25 years studied, the cancer death rates—from a variety of cancers—were all linked to tobacco smoking. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) says that tobacco is one of the strongest cancer-causing agents and its use is linked to a variety of cancers, chronic lung diseases, and cardiovascular diseases, with cigarette smoking the number one preventable cause of death in this country.  Smoking has long been linked to cancers of the throat, mouth, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix says the NCI.

Leistikow pointed out that the study findings more closely link tobacco smoking and cancer deaths, not just lung cancer deaths, said SIFY.  "The fact that lung and non-lung cancer death rates are almost perfectly associated means that smokers and nonsmokers alike should do what they can to avoid tobacco smoke.  It also suggests that increased attention should be paid to smoking prevention in health care reforms and health promotion campaigns," said Leistikow, quoted Science Daily.

The study was funded by UC Davis, the Health Research Board (Ireland), and the National Cancer Institute and included research authors Zubair Kabir of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Research Institute for a Tobacco-Free Society (Ireland), Gregory Connolly and Hillel R. Alpert of the Harvard School of Public Health, and Luke Clancy of the Research Institute for a Tobacco-Free Society, reported ScienceDaily.  The epidemiological analysis was published online in BMC Cancer, said SIFY.

Based on the study’s conclusions, Leistikow said that better “tobacco control efforts” would likely prevent even more deaths to cancer than has long been believed.

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Menthol Cigarettes More Addictive http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/menthol-cigarettes-more-addictive Mon, 12 Jan 2009 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/menthol-cigarettes-more-addictive menthol cigarettes are far more addictive, especially among certain groups of smokers, than nonmenthol cigarettes.  According to University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) researchers, African American and Latino menthol cigarette smokers experienced lower “quit rates.”

The study looked at the effects of menthol on cigarette quit rates among a diverse group of about 1,700 smokers who attended a UMDNJ School of Public Health Tobacco Dependence Clinic and found, “Lower quit rates among African American and Latino menthol cigarette smokers” it said in next month's print edition of The International Journal of Clinical Practice.  “We previously found that menthol cigarette smokers take in more nicotine and carbon monoxide per cigarette. This study shows that menthol smokers also find it harder to quit, despite smoking fewer cigarettes per day,” said study author Kunal Gandhi, MBBS, MPH, a researcher in the division of addiction psychiatry at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Tobacco Dependence Program director Jonathan Foulds pointed out that, “These results build on growing evidence suggesting that menthol is not a neutral flavoring in cigarettes.  It masks the harshness of the nicotine and toxins, affects the way the cigarette is smoked, and makes it more deadly and addictive.”  Foulds added that “More than 80 percent of the African American smokers attending our clinic smoke menthols, and they have half the quit rate of African Americans who smoke non-menthol cigarettes,” said the UMDNJ.  The UMDNJ team believes that the menthol’s cooling effect makes it easier to inhale more nicotine and provides stronger, more addictive doses from each cigarette, which, “May be part of the reason why African Americans have much higher rates of lung cancer,” Foulds said.

The team also expressed concern over the increase in younger and Latino smokers and this group becoming addicted to menthol cigarettes, noting that industry may begin to target its menthol cigarette marketing to groups with very limited disposable income in the hopes they become addicted on fewer cigarettes, said the UMDNJ.

In New Jersery, where UMDNJ is located, recent legislation has banned fruit- and candy-flavored cigarettes—federal regulation on this is pending—although menthol continues to be a legal additive.  The team hopes that this study might change future cigarette regulations regarding flavoring.

Cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless and pipe tobacco consist of dried tobacco leaves and over 4,000 individual compounds with 43 being known carcinogens.  Hundreds of substances are added by manufacturers, including ammonia, tar, and, carbon monoxide and manufacturers do not provide the public details on the precise amount of additives used making it difficult to accurately gauge public health risk, says The American Cancer Society (ACS).  The ACS also notes that 440,000 people die in the U.S. annually because of tobacco use, with one in five related to smoking.

Cigarettes are a major cause of cancers of the lung, larynx, oral cavity, pharynx, and esophagus; a contributing cause in cancers of the bladder, pancreas, liver, uterine cervix, kidney, stomach, colon and rectum, and some leukemias; are a major cause of heart disease, bronchitis, emphysema, and stroke; are a contributor to pneumonia severity and to adverse female reproductive and fetal health; and carry deadly effects in second- and, now, third-hand smoke.

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NEJM Changes Disclosure Policy http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/nejm-changes-disclosure-policy Mon, 12 Jan 2009 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/nejm-changes-disclosure-policy
The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education criticized the Journal for not revealing a financial conflict of interest with one of its study authors, said FierceHealthCare, referring to an article on CT scan effectiveness in the prevention of lung cancer deaths.  The study authors—doctors Claudia Henschke and David Yankelevitz received a substantial, multi-million dollar grant from a cigarette manufacturer, yet grant information was not revealed when the article was published in October 2006, said FierceHealthCare.  The Journal issued a correction and published an editorial last spring, said Boston.com, which explained that Henschke and Yankelevitz received funding and royalty payments for their work on the articles.  Funding was provided by cigarette manufacturer Liggett Tobacco’s parent company and royalties were paid via General Electric (GE) licensing imaging patents.

The 2006 study concluded that broad CT scan use could prevent the vast majority of deaths attributable to lung cancer.  And, although Henschke did advise the Journal that she and Weill Cornell Medical College licensed the patent to GE, the Journal opted to not disclose that information and claimed it did not know the grant was funded, in large part, by a cigarette maker, reported Medical News Today.

Medical News Today referred to a letter published in The Cancer Letter in which the Council said that the Journal and its publisher erred by not revealing, “relevant financial conflicts of interests of the authors."  In its response, the Journal defended its actions stating, "When we published Dr. Henschke's article in 2006, it was not routine NEJM editorial policy to publish details about pending patents," adding, "Since that time our thinking on this issue has evolved."  The Times reported that the Journal now requests authors to disclose patents and royalties received for research on which they write and includes that information in its study articles.

It is a well-know fact that the financial ties between doctors, medical researchers, and the drug industry run deep and some highly regarded doctors and researchers have faced a great deal of criticism because of their financial arrangements with pharmaceutical companies.  For instance, Dr. Joseph Biederman is the latest doctor whose activities with Big Pharma are under review.  According to the Boston Globe, Biederman, a well-known child psychiatrist who has advocated antipsychotics to treat bipolar disorder in children, is suspending his financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies pending an investigation.

Also, Fierce Healthcare noted that Emory University stripped the chairmanship from prominent psychiatric researcher Charles Nemeroff when an investigation revealed he had not reported significant amounts of industry-sourced income.  And, David Sinclair, a Harvard Medical School professor has stepped down from the scientific advisory board of Shaklee Corporation after it was found he helped promote a product claiming to possess life-extending properties.  Sinclair remains as co-chief adviser to Glaxo’s Sirtris Pharmaceuticals and received over $8 million when Glaxo acquired Sirtris; the company pays him $297,000 annually as a consultant, said the Wall Street Journal.



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Third Hand Smoke Dangers Not Well Recognized http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/third-hand-smoke-dangers-not-well-recognized Mon, 05 Jan 2009 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/third-hand-smoke-dangers-not-well-recognized cigarette has been extinguished.  According to The New York Times, third hand smoke could be especially toxic to children.

The Times said the term "third hand smoke" originated with researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children.  They say that third hand smoke contains heavy metals, carcinogens and even radioactive materials.  According to The New York Times, young children playing or crawling on the floor could face health dangers because of exposure to third hand smoke.

Unfortunately, most people don't have a clue about third hand smoke dangers.  According to a study conducted by the Massachusetts General researchers, most smokers and non-smokers know the dangers of first and second hand smoke.  But only about 65 percent of non-smokers, and 43 percent of smokers agreed with the statement that “breathing air in a room today where people smoked yesterday can harm the health of infants and children.”

According to the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, knowledge that first and second hand smoke can hurt kids didn't always mean respondents completely banned smoking in their homes.  Rather, they may have just banned the activity when kids were around.  The researchers concluded that educating the public about the dangers of third hand smoke could encourage more people to completely ban smoking from their homes.

Speaking of smoking bans, it seems that they can be an effective way to improve public health. According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), public smoking bans may have caused a reduction in heart attack rates.

For the CDC study, researchers looked at the effects of  a public and workplace smoking ban implemented in Pueblo, Colorado, in 2003.  The number of people hospitalized for heart attacks dropped significantly after the smoking ban was in place. In the 18 months prior to the ban, there were 400 heart attacks; after the ban the number dropped to 237. The study found no significant changes in heart attack rates in those areas without smoking bans.

The results of the CDC study concur with earlier studies on smoking bans.  Another report issued by the CDC showed that New York City’s smoking rate has plummeted since anti-smoking measures were adopted in 2002. Similar results were seen in Scotland after a smoking ban was implemented in 2006.

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Smoking Linked to Oral Clefts http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/smoking-linked-to-oral-clefts Tue, 23 Dec 2008 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/smoking-linked-to-oral-clefts smoking during the first trimester of pregnancy is linked with an increased risk of oral clefts in newborns, reports Science Daily.  The Mayo Clinic explains that cleft lip and cleft palate are among the most common of birth defects, affecting about one in 700 infants annually in the United States.

The study was based on a larger Norwegian case control study involving researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the University of Bergen, Rikshospital, Haukeland University Hospital, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States, said Science Daily.  Science Daily said the research team wanted to learn if smoking or exposure to passive—second-hand—smoke was involved in oral cleft defects and if genes influence the risk in how toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke are processed.

Of the 676 babies born with oral clefts and referred for cleft surgery in the years between 1996 and 2001, 573 were involved in the study; 763 babies born during the same time frame in Norway were randomly selected as controls, reported Science Daily.

Science Daily explained that an array of blood, PKU, and DNA samples were taken from the children referred for surgery and their parents, as well as children and parents from the control group.  When the babies were four weeks old, the mothers completed a questionnaire with information concerning medical conditions and environmental exposure.  The survey included specific questions about the mothers' smoking habits and exposure to passive smoking before pregnancy and during the first trimester of pregnancy, said Science Daily.

The researchers found that 42 percent of the mothers who gave birth to babies with oral clefts and 32 percent of the control group mothers reported having had smoked in the first trimester of pregnancy.  Also, there was an increased risk (nearly two-fold) for cleft lip, with or without cleft palate if the mother smoked in excess of 10 cigarettes daily and 1.6-fold when the mother was exposed to passive smoke.  According to Science Daily, the researchers concluded that 19 percent of Norwegian cleft lip cases might be linked to maternal smoking in the first trimester.

According to The Mayo Clinic, cleft is defined as an opening or split in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth (palate), or both and can affect one or both sides of the upper lip.  Under normal circumstances, lip closure occurs about five weeks into pregnancy and is followed by palate closure at week nine.

WebMD notes that oral clefts are treatable birth defects in which the baby's palate does not develop normally during pregnancy, leaving an opening, known as a cleft, that can extend into the nasal cavity.  Unless corrected surgically, clefts can “interfere with feeding, speech development, and hearing,” says WebMD, adding that babies whose mothers used certain medicines, were exposed to radiation or infections, took illegal drugs, smoked, or drank alcohol during pregnancy might be at increased risk for the defect.

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Study: Second-Hand Smoke Linked to Female Infertility http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/study-second-hand-smoke-linked-to-female-infertility Mon, 22 Dec 2008 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/study-second-hand-smoke-linked-to-female-infertility smokers may face greater challenges when trying to conceive.  Reuters Health said that while previous studies have  indicated that female smokers increase their risks of pregnancy complications, miscarriage and infant health problems, this latest study is showing other risks.

Over 4,800 women were included  in the study, which was led by  Luke J. Peppone, Ph.D., research assistant professor at Rochester's James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester, New York, Reuters said.  Peppone's team found those who were raised with a parent who smoked were likelier to report problems conceiving after having tried for the one-year mark by which infertility problems are generally identified, said Reuters.  Women exposed to second-hand smoke as both children and adults saw a 39 percent increased likelihood of undergoing a miscarriage or stillbirth and a 68 percent greater chance of experiencing infertility problems.

"These statistics are breathtaking and certainly (point) to yet another danger of second-hand smoke exposure.  We all know that cigarettes and second-hand smoke are dangerous.  Breathing the smoke has lasting effects, especially for women when they're ready for children," Peppone told Reuters.  

The team found that four out of five women reported exposure to second-hand smoke during their lifetime, with half growing up in a home with smoking parents and nearly two-thirds exposed to some second-hand smoking at the time of the survey, said Science Daily.  Over 40 percent had difficulty getting pregnant, with infertility lasting over a year, or suffered miscarriages, some more than once, said Science Daily.

The researchers said health problems increased based on daily hours the woman was exposed to second-hand smoke.  Reuters said this indicated  “a cause-effect relationship.”  Peppone explained such smoke contains a variety of toxins that could damage a woman's reproductive health, with tobacco possibly harming cells’ genetic material, causing conception problems, increasing miscarriage risk, or restraining or stopping hormones necessary for “conception and a successful pregnancy,” Reuters said.

For the study, researchers looked at 4,804 surveys completed by women who had received health screening or underwent cancer treatment at Rochester University’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute between 1982 and 1998,  All had been pregnant at least once, said Science Daily.  The  women generally grew up in the 1940s and 1950s, prior to the surgeon general’s first warning about cigarettes in 1964.  The data was obtained from the Patient Epidemiology Data System, which has been used to derive information on other cancers, Science Daily said.

The survey was 16 pages long and looked at “lifestyle, habits, family and personal health history, and occupational and environmental exposures,” said Science Daily.  No participant reported ever having smoked; information included if either or both parents smoked, if the women lived with or worked with smokers as adults, and how long the women were exposed to second-hand smoke.

Study findings appear in the December 5th online issue of Tobacco Control, said Reuters.  Science Daily notes that Tobacco Control is one of the first publications to reveal second-hand smokes’ long-term effects on women of childbearing age.

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Study: Smoking Raises Colon Cancer Risk http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/study-smoking-raises-colon-cancer-risk Thu, 18 Dec 2008 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/study-smoking-raises-colon-cancer-risk smoking and an increased risk for colorectal cancer and death, Science Daily is reporting.  Science Daily notes that tobacco was the cause of about 5.4 million deaths in 2005, yet there are still about 1.3 billion smokers, worldwide.  Health Day News reported that smoking increases the risk of CRC by about 18 percent, with a 25 percent increased risk of death, according to the study, which was published in the December 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Up until now, an array of cancers have been clearly linked to smoking; this was not always the case with smoking and colorectal cancer—also known as CRC—due to inconsistent study outcomes, notes Science Daily.  "Because smoking can potentially be controlled by individual and population-related measures, detecting a link between CRC and smoking could help reduce the burden of the world's third most common tumor, which currently causes more than 500,000 annual deaths worldwide.  In the United States alone, an estimate of approximately 50,000 deaths from CRC would have occurred in 2008," the authors write, quoted Science Daily.  Study author Edoardo Botteri, M.Sc., of the European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy, and colleagues conducted the meta-analysis, said Science Daily, in order to review and summarize published data that looked at the link between CRC and death to smoking.

Science Daily said the team identified 106 observational studies, with analysis based on about 40,000 new CRC cases and, said Botteri, according to Health Day News, "There was an increase in risk with increasing number of cigarettes per day and pack-years—the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day multiplied by years of consumption."

Also, said Science Daily, 17 studies were used to review mortality and revealed an increase in CRC death correlating to an increased number of cigarettes smoked daily and for longer duration of smoking. For CRC and death, the association increased for rectal over colon cancer.  “Smoking has not been considered so far in the stratification of individuals for CRC screening.  However, several studies reported that CRC occurs earlier in smokers, particularly in those with heavy tobacco consumption, and our previous and present findings provide strong evidence of the detrimental effect of cigarette smoking on the development of adenomatous [benign tumor] polyps and CRC.  We believe that smoking represents an important factor to consider when deciding on the age at which CRC screening should begin, either by lowering the age in smokers or increasing the age in non-smokers," the authors wrote, quoted Science Daily.  The studies reviewed consisted of from small trials with just a few hundred to large trials consisting of over one million participants, said Health Day News.

Botteri also noted, said Health Day News, that, "Smoking is significantly associated with colorectal cancer incidence and mortality.  People should be aware that smoking increases the risk of cancer not only in organs where there is direct contact with tobacco-related carcinogens, such as lung, oropharynx, larynx, and upper digestive tract, but also in organs where exposure to tobacco degradation products is indirect, such as the pancreas, kidney, bladder, cervix, colon and rectum."  Tobacco is responsible for about 100 million deaths during the past century and 80 percent of lung cancers are directly linked to smoking, reports the study, said Health Day News.

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"Light" Cigarette Suits OK'd by Supreme Court http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/light-cigarette-suits-okd-by-supreme-court Tue, 16 Dec 2008 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/light-cigarette-suits-okd-by-supreme-court "Light" cigarette lawsuits can go forward, thanks to a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.  In a 5-4 decision, the court said a federal labeling law doesn’t shield cigarette makers from fraud lawsuits over the marketing of cigarettes they describe as “light” or “low tar."  According to Bloomberg.com the high court also said federal oversight of cigarette testing didn’t preclude those lawsuits.

Millions of Americans  have smoked "low-tar," "mild," or "light" cigarettes, believing those cigarettes to be less harmful than other cigarettes. Many of these cigarettes were falsely marketed as "safe" or "harmless".  

Various studies have proven that "light" cigarettes are just as dangerous as other varieties.  Last year, a Philip Morris memo from 1975 was made public that proved cigarette makers were aware that smokers of light cigarettes took longer puffs and inhaled larger amounts of tar than those who smoked other version.

The controversy over "light" cigarettes has spawned  dozens of lawsuits claiming billions of dollars in damages.  The Supreme Court case was brought by three Main smokers seeking to sue Philip Morris, and its parent Altria, for economic damages that resulted from fraudulent claims about the safety of light cigarettes.  The plaintiffs wanted to sue the companies under Main's Unfair Trade Practices Act.

According to the LA Times, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) told the court that the tobacco industry had known for at least 30 years that light cigarettes were not safer. The FTC also said the use of labels such as "light," "ultra light" or "low tar" did little but fool smokers into thinking they faced less of a health risk, the LA times said.

Atrias and Philip Morris had claimed that the federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, which required tobacco companies to place rotating warnings on their packaging and advertising, pre-empted such lawsuits.  According to The New York Times, the law states that "no requirement or prohibition based on smoking and health shall be imposed under state law with respect to the advertising or promotion” of cigarettes so long as the law’s labeling requirements were followed.  In 1992, the court  ruled that the law barred claims from smokers who said they were not warned about the health risks.

But in its decision yesterday, the court's majority held that cigarette makers could be sued for deceptive advertising under state consumer-protection laws. According to the LA Times, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that those who sold products had a "duty not to deceive" the public through their advertising or marketing.

The decision allows class-action lawsuits to proceed in several states and opens the door to suits in other states, the LA Times said.  According to Bloomberg.com, fraud suits over "light" cigarettes represent probably the most significant legal threat facing the tobacco industry.

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Smoking During Pregnancy Ups Birth Defect Risks, May Lead to Fussy Babies http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/smoking-during-pregnancy-ups-birth-defect-risks-may-lead-to-fussy-babies Wed, 05 Nov 2008 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/smoking-during-pregnancy-ups-birth-defect-risks-may-lead-to-fussy-babies cleft lip or palate, but can also have an effect on a baby's behavior, according to two new studies published in "The Journal of Pediatrics".  An accompanying editorial said that the studies' findings indicate that smoking has become a major pediatric health problem.

In the first study, researchers from the March of Dimes and institutes in Norway, Holland, and Texas  studied serum samples collected between 2003 and 2005 from pregnant women enrolled in the California Expanded AFP (alpha fetoprotein) program. The researchers measured the levels of cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine, to determine whether the mothers smoked during pregnancy.

The study found that women who smoked during pregnancy were nearly 2.5 times more likely to have babies with oral clefts. Babies with cleft palate or lip require significant medical care–often four surgeries by age two–and may have speech, hearing, and feeding problems

In the second study, researchers at Brown University studied the effects of cigarette smoke exposure on infant behavior. The researchers studied 56 otherwise healthy infants and used questionnaires and cotinine measurements to determine cigarette smoke exposure.

The study found that 28 babies who had been exposed to cigarette smoke were more irritable and difficult to sooth than the 28 babies who were not exposed. The researchers said their study highlighted the importance of cessation programs for smoking mothers, as well as programs to help new mothers manage a baby who is difficult to soothe.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Cynthia Bearer of the University of Maryland and Matthew Stefanak of the Mahoning County District Board of Health in Ohio, wrote that smoking should now be considered a major pediatric health problem.  Citing the fact that 90 percent of smokers start smoking by the age of 18, the editorial advocated  prevention as the best solution, and stressed the need to stop smoking before it starts.

The editorial stated that the graphic portrayal of the damaging effects of tobacco use on health and physical attractiveness may be effective in deterring teens from smoking. Because parents who actively disapprove of smoking can help their children avoid the harmful effects of cigarette smoke exposure, the writers of the editorial encouraged  parents to take an active role in smoking prevention.

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CDC Reports Tobacco Responsible for Over 2 Million US Cancer Cases http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/cdc-reports-tobacco-responsible-for-over-2-million-us-cancer-cases Fri, 05 Sep 2008 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/cdc-reports-tobacco-responsible-for-over-2-million-us-cancer-cases The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that tobacco use is responsible for 2.4 million cases of cancer in the United States from 1999 to 2004, with lung and bronchial cancer accounting for about half of all of the cancer cases.  The CDC also found that cancers of the larynx, mouth and pharynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix are caused by tobacco as is acute myelogenous leukemia.

"The data in this report provides additional, strong evidence of the serious harm related to tobacco," said Sherri Stewart of the CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, who led the study.  Stewart's team reviewed cancer surveys and registries covering 92 percent of the U.S. population.

The study revealed that Kentucky had the highest rates of lung cancer among men and women, while Western states with low rates of smoking also had low cancer rates.  Tobacco-related cancers were more common among blacks, non-Hispanic whites and men, reflecting the groups that use tobacco more, the CDC found.

"Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States and the most prominent cause of cancer," said the CDC's Dr. Matthew McKenna.  "The tobacco-use epidemic causes a third of the cancers in America," McKenna added.  The CDC reports that tobacco use kills 438,000 people prematurely every year, including 38,000 people do not smoke, but suffer the effects of secondhand smoke.  "Tobacco use causes more deaths each year than alcohol use, car crashes, suicide, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), homicide, and illegal drug use combined," the report reads.  "In addition, smoking accounts for $167 billion annually in health care expenditures and productivity losses."

Cancer is not the only serious health concern that cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke cause.  Experts have long known that children are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke and that such exposure either prenatally or early in life can raise a child's risk of developing asthma symptoms, and, now, allergies.  Secondhand smoke exposure causes respiratory symptoms in children and slows their lung growth and causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks in children.  It has also long been believed that prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke can cause lung damage and emphysema.

In the past, doctors lacked a way to prove this and previous detection methods simply weren’t sufficiently sensitive, but ew technologies have enabled researchers to confirm that long-term exposure to secondhand smoke can cause structural damage in the lungs, indicative of emphysema.  In recent years, secondhand smoke has emerged as a public health threat, being classified as a carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency and linked to heart disease, lung cancer, and a number of respiratory ailments, including asthma and chronic bronchitis. According to the American Lung Association, 35 percent of American children live in homes where regular smoking occurs.  Also, smokers have a higher risk of developing several chronic disorders including atherosclerosis, several types of cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

 

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Study: Tobacco Marketing Promotes Cigarette Use in Youth http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/study-tobacco-marketing-promotes-cigarette-use-in-youth Mon, 25 Aug 2008 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/study-tobacco-marketing-promotes-cigarette-use-in-youth According to a massive study just released by the US National Cancer Institute, mass media has the power to encourage and discourage tobacco use, especially among young people.  "This is the first report to conclude that tobacco advertising and promotion increases tobacco use," said Melanie Wakefield, senior scientific editor of the nearly 700-page report entitled, The Role of the Media in Promoting and Reducing Tobacco Use.  "It's the first report to make the conclusion that there is a causal relationship between exposure to depiction of smoking in the movies and youth beginning to smoke," she said.  "Mass media can change youth attitudes about tobacco use," Wakefield said.  In a press conference in Washington, DC.

According to Wakefield, the report took four years to compile, involved expert analysis from 23 authors, input from numerous other experts, and analysis of over 1,000 scientific studies on the role of media in encouraging and discouraging tobacco use.  The report found that media play a key role in shaping knowledge, opinions, attitudes, and behaviors among people and within communities, that "Cigarettes are one of the most heavily marketed products in the United States."  US obacco manufacturers spent about $250 billion—in 2006 dollars—between 1940 and 2005 on cigarette advertising and promotion, with most funding assigned to promotions, such as price discounts, which are considered to be very attractive to the youth demographic.  The study also found that big tobacco entices consumer with these themes: Tobacco provides satisfaction, tobacco’s dangers are not a cause for concern, and tobacco is associated with desirable outcomes, i.e., social success.  Additionally, the report stated that a causal relationship exists between tobacco promotion and ads and increased tobacco use and also that smoking is still pervasive in movies, occurring on at least three-quarters or more of contemporary box-office hits; such exposure leads to more youth smoking.

According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the report authors said cigarette smoking is responsible for over 400,000 premature deaths annually, and reduces the life expectancy of smokers by an average of 14 years.  "The report stops at synthesizing the evidence," Wakefield said. "Now it is up to the government to consider the evidence and think about what it needs to do in terms of advertising and promotion."  While the report was released by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, "other nations will take note of this report," she said.

William Corr, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, who also spoke at the press conference, said: "This report sends an unmistakable message to our elected officials that they can dramatically reduce tobacco use by children and by adults by passing legislation that would authorize the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products and by adequately funding their state prevention and cessation programs."  In July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would subject the tobacco industry to federal regulation, including granting the FDA the power to regulate tobacco products. The Senate has yet to act on a similar measure.

 

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Big Tobacco Manipulated Menthol to Lure Specific Smokers http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/big-tobacco-manipulated-menthol-to-lure-specific-smokers Thu, 17 Jul 2008 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/big-tobacco-manipulated-menthol-to-lure-specific-smokers cigarettes to both snag young smokers and maintain smoking adults.  Many believe the Harvard report could add to existing controversy over menthol in pending tobacco legislation.

The study—which has been ongoing for the past two years—found that manufacturers have marketed brands to what it called a “vulnerable population” of adolescents and young adults by “manipulating sensory elements of cigarettes to promote initiation and dependence.”  The study explains that young people tolerate menthol cigarettes better than harsher nonmenthol cigarettes because menthol masks the harshness of tobacco in low-level menthol cigarettes.  This masking better enables smokers to become more accustomed to smoking.  The study also found that the sensations of smoking menthol are preferable to younger smokers.  “Tobacco companies researched how controlling menthol levels could increase brand sales among specific groups,” the study said.  “They discovered that products with higher menthol levels and stronger perceived menthol sensations suited long-term smokers of menthol cigarettes, and milder brands with lower menthol levels appealed to younger smokers.”  The study found that 44 percent of smokers age
12 to 17 prefer menthol cigarettes, which comprise 28 percent of the $70 billion American cigarette industry.

The study, published by The American Journal of Public Health, found various changes in cigarette menthol levels since 2000, which the authors believe were intended to attract specific smoker groups.  The cigarettes cited are:  Lorillard’s Newport and R. J. Reynolds’ Salem Black Label, Salem Green Label, Camel Menthol, Kool, and Kool Milds.

The study also claims Philip Morris used a dual marketing strategy to better compete in the menthol market, where it had been lagging before 2000.  It introduced a low-level menthol brand, Marlboro Milds, to compete with cigarettes like Newport and also raised the menthol level in its Marlboro Menthol brand by 25 percent to appeal to adult smokers.  “Marlboro needed a lower-menthol product that would cater to young smokers’ sensory needs, as well as a higher-menthol cigarette for older smokers,” the study said.  The marketing ploys worked and now Philip Morris is the second-largest seller of menthol cigarettes in the US.

Dr. Howard Koh, an author of the study, accused the tobacco industry of pursuing “a very sophisticated strategy to lure in youth with lower menthol levels and then lock in adult customers who become acclimated to menthol and give them the higher levels they want ….  This is an area where the industry was clearly maintaining market share, if not increasing it among certain parts of the population,” Dr. Koh said.

A bill currently pending in Congress would allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products and remove cigarette additives, including menthol.  The legislation would immediately ban many other flavorings, but specifically exempts menthol from such a ban, a controversial component to the bill as black smokers, who have high rates of smoking-related cancers, heavily favor menthol cigarettes.

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Big Tobacco Handed Victory by Manhattan Appeals Court http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/big-tobacco-handed-victory-by-manhattan-appeals-court Mon, 14 Apr 2008 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/big-tobacco-handed-victory-by-manhattan-appeals-court Tobacco giants Brown & Williamson Holdings and  Philip Morris USA won a huge victory last week when a Manhattan appeals court reversed a ruling in favor of a lung cancer victim who had argued that the cigarette makers were negligent by failing to market only "light cigarettes".  In a 3-2 decision the appellate division ruled that the plaintiff failed to prove that light cigarettes would "have been acceptable to the consumers that constitute the market for the allegedly defective product," regular cigarettes

However, two dissenting judges sharply criticized the tobacco companies, finding that the test of consumer acceptability amounted to "nothing more than a cynical effort by the defendants to maintain the commercial advantages of continuing to sell unreasonably dangerous addictive products to addicts."

The lawsuit in question was filed by Norma Rose, a 73-year-old woman diagnosed with lung cancer and other health problems caused by a smoking habit she began in the 1940s.  In her lawsuit, Rose v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., she alleged that the cigarette makers' failure to sell only low-tar, low-nicotine products amounted to negligence.  Rose said she briefly tried two low-tar brands, but found the taste unappealing.

According to the site Law.com, on March 18, 2005, in a case presided over by Acting Supreme Court Justice Karen S. Smith, a Manhattan jury handed down a $3.4 million compensatory award, to be split evenly against Philip Morris and Brown & Williamson. Rose also received a $17.1 punitive damages award against Philip Morris.  The tobacco companies asked Judge Smith to overturn the jury's decision, but she refused. 

Last Thursday, the Appellate Division reversed her decision and granted the dismissal the tobacco companies requested.  The majority opinion, written by Justice David S. Friedman, noted that New York law does not allow a manufacturer to be held liable for declining to "adopt an alternative product design that has not been shown to retain the 'inherent usefulness' the product offers when manufactured according to the more risky (but otherwise lawful) design that was actually used."

Rose's lawyers maintained that her lawsuit  had satisfied this burden by showing that it was technically feasible to manufacture light cigarettes. But the majority on the court held that Rose had failed to present evidence of "consumer acceptability" of light cigarettes,  because supposedly, the majority of individuals smoke for the taste and psychological effects of tar and nicotine.

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FDA Tobacco Bill Gains Momentum in Congress http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/fda-tobacco-bill-gains-momentum-in-congress Fri, 04 Apr 2008 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/fda-tobacco-bill-gains-momentum-in-congress Tobacco products might soon face regulation by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).  A bill granting the FDA jurisdiction to regulate cigarettes and other forms of tobacco was approved by the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday, setting up its passage by the full House.

Tobacco products are among the least regulated consumer products on the market.  Yet, tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death in America. Every year, smoking and other tobacco use kill more than 400,000 Americans and cost the nation more than $96 billion in health care bills.

On Wednesday, the House panel approved the FDA tobacco bill by a margin of 38-12.  The measure has gained substantial bipartisan support, with 11 Republicans supporting it, including one — Mike Rogers of Michigan — who had voted against the bill when the Health Subcommittee marked it up March 13.  The 12 “no” votes all came from Republicans, some of whom cited the measure’s potential effect on the FDA itself.

The FDA tobacco bill has more than 200 co-sponsors in the House, and it now also has support from some tobacco industry interests, such as the biggest U.S. smokeless tobacco maker, that had until recently opposed it.  That's because the drafters of the FDA tobacco bill made key concessions the industry supports, such as prohibiting the FDA from instituting a ban on tobacco products, or requiring tobacco manufacturers to zero out nicotine.

The FDA tobacco bill, drafted by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif), would among other things, allow the FDA to set product standards, which could include limiting certain ingredients in cigarettes. Tobacco makers would have to turn over to the agency extensive information and win FDA approval for claims that products carry reduced health risks. The agency would get the ability to regulate advertising of tobacco products.

According to CQ.com, a Senate version of the bill was approved by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Aug. 1. The full Senate is expected to debate the bill in the next few months. A report in The Walls Street Journal said all three presidential candidates -- Democratic Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Republican Sen. John McCain -- are co-sponsors of the Senate version of the FDA tobacco bill.

While backers of the FDA tobacco bill hope the House will vote on it sometime this spring, there are still substantial obstacles to its passage.  The FDA commissioner has already raise concerns about the bill, and there is a good chance that the President will veto it when it comes to his desk.  Opponents have also argued that the FDA, which has been faulted by many for its handling of drug and food safety, isn't up to handling tobacco regulation.  



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Tobacco Co. Funded Lung Cancer Study Elicits Mea Culpa from New England Journal of Medicine http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/tobacco-co-funded-lung-cancer-study-elicits-mea-culpa-from-new-england-journal-of-medicine Fri, 04 Apr 2008 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/tobacco-co-funded-lung-cancer-study-elicits-mea-culpa-from-new-england-journal-of-medicine cigarette maker.

In the correction, the New England Journal acknowledges the study's lead authors, Claudia Henschke and David Yankelevitz of Cornell University's Weill Medical College in New York City, received royalties from GE for pending patents on ways to manipulate and interpret CT scans and other medical images.

In late 2006, Henschke released a study revealing that the vast majority of lung cancer deaths could be prevented through widespread use of CT scans.  The study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine and indicated—in small print at the end of the piece—the work was financed, in part, by the Foundation for Lung Cancer:  Early Detection, Prevention & Treatment.  A tax record review revealed the foundation was almost entirely underwritten by $3.6 million in grants from the Vector Group, of Liggett Select, Eve, Grand Prix, Quest, and Pyramid cigarette brands.  From 2000 to 2003, the foundation received four grants from Vector.

A spokesman for the doctors said they told the New England Journal that Cornell licensed the pending patents to GE before the study was printed, but not that they were personally receiving royalty shares.  Jeffrey Drazen, the New England Journal's chief editor, said the publication learned of the royalties recently and that the journal will ask future researchers to provide details on funding sources. "It had not been a practice at the time to ask people about the pedigree of their sources," Dr. Drazen said. "This has been a learning process for us."  The New England Journal also published a clarification from Henschke, acknowledging the study was funded, in part, by tobacco giant Vector.

In 2006, Vector announced it was funding Henschke's work, but didn't mention the connection to the tobacco industry; it claimed “no control or influence over the research."  The New England Journal called for clearer disclosure of funding sources saying readers "cannot fully appreciate a study's meaning without acknowledging the subtle biases in design and interpretation that may arise when a sponsor stands to gain from the report.  We and our readers were surprised to learn that the source of the funding of the charitable foundation was, in fact, a large corporation that could have an interest in the study results."  The journal also questioned the "advisability of research entities accepting funding from tobacco companies" except through foundations set up following litigation between states and tobacco companies.

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Cigarette Company's "Blood Money" Paid for Important Lung Cancer Study, Critics Say http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/cigarette-companys-blood-money-paid-for-important-lung-cancer-study-critics-say Wed, 26 Mar 2008 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/cigarette-companys-blood-money-paid-for-important-lung-cancer-study-critics-say cigarette company.  In late 2006, Dr. Claudia Henschke of Weill Cornell Medical College released a study revealing that the majority (80 percent) of lung cancer deaths could be prevented through widespread use of CT scans.  The study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine and indicated—in small print at the end of the piece—that the work was financed, in part, by the Foundation for Lung Cancer:  Early Detection, Prevention & Treatment.  A tax record review revealed the foundation was almost entirely underwritten by $3.6 million in grants from the parent company of the Liggett Group—the Vector Group—maker of Liggett Select, Eve, Grand Prix, Quest, and Pyramid cigarette brands.  From 2000 to 2003, the foundation received four grants from Vector.

Dr. Jeffrey M. Drazen, editor-in-chief of the journal expressed surprise, “In the seven years that I’ve been here, we have never knowingly published anything supported by” a cigarette maker.  As a matter-of-fact, more and more universities do not accept grants from cigarette makers; a growing awareness of the influence companies can have over research outcomes has led most medical journals and associations to demand researchers accurately disclose financing sources.

Prominent cancer researchers and journal editors were stunned to learn of the Henschke-Liggett link.  Cigarette makers are so reviled among cancer advocates and researchers that association with industry can taint researchers and bar their work from being published. “If you’re using blood money, you need to tell people you’re using blood money,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society which gave Henschke over $100,000 in grants from 2004 to 2007 it would not have provided had it known of Liggett’s grants, Brawley said.

Henschke and Dr. David Yankelevitz—Henschke’s long-time collaborator—wrote, “It seems clear that you are trying to suggest that Cornell was trying to conceal this gift, which is entirely false.”  “The gift was announced publicly, the advocacy and public health community knew about it, it is quite easy to look it up on the Internet, its board has independent Cornell faculty on it, and it was fully disclosed to grant funding organizations,” they wrote, adding that the Vector grant represented a small part of the study’s overall cost. The foundation no longer accepts grants from tobacco companies, they wrote.  In the Vector press release, Dr. Henschke was quoted as saying that, thanks to the Vector grants, “we have raised the initial funding needed to support this important research and data collection on the effectiveness of spiral CT screening.”

Dr. Antonio Gotto, dean of Weill Cornell, said Henschke, Yankelevitz, and another colleague set up the foundation initially without university’s approval, which faculty members are allowed to do.  He and Mahon joined the board following its creation to ensure Vector grants were handled correctly, “If we had been approached, we would not have set up the foundation,” Gotto said. “We would have accepted the gift directly. We think we behaved honorably. There was no attempt to set up a foundation to hide tobacco money.”

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Philip Morris, Wyeth Want Supreme Court to Enact Lawsuit Shield http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/philip-morris-wyeth-want-supreme-court-to-enact-lawsuit-shield Tue, 22 Jan 2008 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/philip-morris-wyeth-want-supreme-court-to-enact-lawsuit-shield “light” cigarettes, and drug maker Wyeth have argued in separate cases that their products should be shielded from suits if they have been approved for use by a federal agency -- such as the Food and Drug Administration -- and a warning label is included.  If the Supreme Court rules in favor of these companies, thousands of people suing over injuries caused by defective drugs and other products will lose the right to have their cases heard in court.

In the drug case,  the Supreme Court agreed to hear Wyeth's appeal of a $6.8-million verdict in favor of a Vermont woman whose arm had to be amputated after she was injected with Phenergan, a nausea medication.  In April 2000, the woman went to a health clinic complaining of a migraine and nausea. The injection she was given punctured an artery in her arm, which led to gangrene.  A Vermont jury agreed that Wyeth should have warned nurses and doctors against injecting the drug. But Wyeth said the suit should be thrown out because the FDA had approved the use of injections to administer its anti-nausea drugs and because the label warned against injecting the drug into an artery.

In the second case, the court agreed to hear an appeal from cigarette maker Philip Morris, which is being sued by smokers who say they were deceived by the company’s marketing into thinking that "light" cigarettes were less dangerous.  Philip Morris attorneys say all these claims should be thrown out because the federally approved labels warned consumers of the dangers of smoking.

These two cases are similar to another appeal filed by medical device maker Medtronic the Supreme Court agreed to hear earlier this month.  Medtronic claims that the Medical Device Amendments of 1976 to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that require FDA approval of medical devices preempt product liability lawsuits in state courts.  That law clearly says that states can’t maintain requirements that are different from federal standards. When it wrote the law, Congress didn’t specify that those federal standards preempted state common law claims.  But Medtronic believes that the amendments do just that.  Before the Supreme Court, the company argued that allowing state personal injury lawsuits against the makers of defective medical devices amounts to a state “requirement” different from FDA requirements because such complaints are based on state laws.

Over the years, Congress has had several opportunities to enact the type of shield laws Medtronic and the other companies want, but has declined to do so.  Clearly, if Congress had intended such shields, they would be present in the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or other laws.  Unsuccessful in their attempts to get Congress to do their bidding, Wyeth, Medtronic and Philip Morris are trying to get the Supreme Court to take on an active role in rewriting the law to suit their needs.

One legal expert told the LA Times that  rulings in favor of Medtronic and the other companies could do great harm to consumers.  If the FDA's approval is enough to shield a drug maker from being sued, "this could give drug makers an immunity from litigation they have long coveted," Georgetown law professor David Vladeck said. "It also sends exactly the wrong message to drug companies. We know the names of drugs like Vioxx and Rezulin because of the failures of FDA regulation."

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Secondhand Smoke Exposure Linked to Higher Rates of Allergies in Children http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/secondhand-smoke-exposure-linked-to-higher-rates-of-allergies-in-children Thu, 27 Dec 2007 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/secondhand-smoke-exposure-linked-to-higher-rates-of-allergies-in-children asthma attacks in children.  But now, a new secondhand smoke study, conducted at the Kaolinska Institute in Stockholm and led by Dr. Eva Lannero suggests that young children who were exposed to cigarette smoke as babies may be more likely to suffer from certain allergies.  This new secondhand smoke study suggests that it is possible that being exposed to secondhand smoke triggers inflammation in the lining of young children's airways which may sensitize them to allergy-triggering substances.  In the new study, Swedish researchers found that four-year-olds who had been exposed to their parents' cigarette smoking during early infancy were at greater risk of developing allergies to indoor allergens such as dust mites and cat dander.  The children studied were also at an increased risk of developing food allergies.  Lannero and her colleagues reported the findings in the medical journal Thorax.

The study included more than 4,000 families with infants born between 1994 and 1996.  Parents were asked whether either of them smoked when the child was two months, one year, or two years old.  At the age of four, the children had their blood tested for antibodies to a range of common allergens, such as cat dander, dust mite, and mold, as well as foods such as milk, eggs, and wheat.  The researchers found that children who had been exposed to cigarette smoke at the age of two months were 28 percent more likely to have antibodies to either an indoor air allergen or a food allergen.  In particular, their odds of being sensitized to cat dander were double that of children with no secondhand smoke exposure at two months of age.  These children were also nearly 50 percent more likely to have antibodies to food allergens.  The findings, according to Lannero's team, support the theory that early damage to the mucous membranes lining the airways may make children more sensitive to allergens and offer parents yet another reason to keep their children away from secondhand smoke.

There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure.  Even brief exposure can be dangerous.  Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, is a complex mixture of gases and particles that include smoke from the burning cigarette, cigar, or pipe tip as well as exhaled smoke and contains at least 250 chemicals known to be toxic, including over 50 that can cause cancer.  Exposure causes heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults; nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke increase their heart disease risk by 25–30% and their lung cancer risk by 20–30%.  Those with heart disease are at especially high risk.

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Secondhand Smoke Damage Seen in Enhanced MRI http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/secondhand-smoke-damage-seen-in-enhanced-mri Wed, 28 Nov 2007 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/secondhand-smoke-damage-seen-in-enhanced-mri Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

In recent years, secondhand smoke has emerged as a public health threat,  and the toxic substance has been classified as a carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency and linked to heart disease, lung cancer, and a number of respiratory ailments, including asthma and chronic bronchitis.  Children are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.  According to the American Lung Association, 35 percent of American children live in homes where regular smoking occurs.

For the RSNA study, researchers used a global helium-3 diffusion MRI to study the lungs of 13 current or former smokers and 45 people who had never smoked.  Helium-3 diffusion MRI differs from conventional MRI in that helium gas is polarized with a laser, the patient inhales the specially prepared helium gas, and the scanner collects images showing how the gas distributes in the tiny air sacs—alveoli—in the lung, allowing for microscopic detection.  Helium-3 diffusion offers more detailed images of the lungs than previous techniques and allows radiologists and physicists to detect changes deep in the small airways and sacs in the lungs, which can break down, become enlarged, and develop holes after prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke—early signs of emphysema.  As a result, helium travels much further in people with enlarged air sacs than in people with healthy alveoli.  Using helium MRI, researchers were able to detect microscopic changes suggestive of emphysema in smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke.

Of the nonsmokers, 22 had heavy exposure to secondhand smoke, meaning they lived with a smoker or worked in a bar for at least a decade. None of the individuals participating in the study had symptoms of lung disease.  The modified MRI detected signs of early lung damage in 67 percent of smokers and 27 percent of nonsmokers with heavy exposure to secondhand smoke.  Conversely, only four-percent of nonsmokers who had never smoked and had fewer than 10 years of exposure appeared to have signs of early lung damage.

Since legislation to limit public exposure to secondhand smoke is still being considered in many states, it is hoped that this research can be used to add momentum to the drive to pass such legislation.

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Light Cigarettes Just As Deadly as Regular Versions, and Tobacco Companies Knew It http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/light-cigarettes-just-as-deadly-as-regular-versions-and-tobacco-companies-knew-it Tue, 13 Nov 2007 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/light-cigarettes-just-as-deadly-as-regular-versions-and-tobacco-companies-knew-it Light cigarettes are just as deadly as regular cigarettes, but tobacco companies kept that information to themselves.   According to a newly released Philip Morris memo from 1975, the cigarette makers were aware that smokers of light cigarettes took longer puffs and inhaled larger amounts of tar than those who smoked other version.   Now, a Senate committee is asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) why it still allows cigarettes to be classified as regular, light and ultra-light versions even though none of these products offer consumers an increased measure of safety.

The Philip Morris memo was released by the Senate Commerce Committee yesterday in advance of today’s hearing into the FTC’s oversight of cigarette marketing.  The Philip Morris document said that puffs taken by smokers of light cigarettes contain more cancer-causing  tar than those from regular cigarettes.  It has been known for sometime that smokers assume that the “low tar” “light” and “ultralight” labels mean a cigarette is somehow safer than regular versions.  

The FTC allows the cigarette companies to use the regular, light, ultra light and low tar classifications as long as they are determined by a standardized system that uses a machine that smokes cigarettes the same way every time.  But people are not like machines, and some take deeper breaths and larger puffs than others.  It’s a known fact that smokers who switch to light cigarettes from regular cigarettes "compensate" for the lower nicotine level by inhaling more deeply; taking larger, more rapid, or more frequent puffs; or by increasing the number of cigarettes smoked per day. As a result, smokers cancel out any potential benefit of smoking a "low-tar" cigarette. The FTC itself has raised concerns about its testing methods and has admitted in prior congressional testimony that its "ratings tend to be relatively poor predictors of tar and nicotine exposure."

Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, a member of the committee has asserted that this makes light cigarettes even more dangerous than regular versions.   He is sponsoring legislation that would prohibit cigarette makers from using descriptions like “light” and “low tar” on labels or in advertising.

For their part, the tobacco companies claim that they have taken steps to inform their customers that cigarettes labeled “light” are no safer than other versions.  Philip Morris, for instance, acknowledges this fact on its website.  But the anti-smoking group, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, says that the advertising for light cigarettes often targets health conscious smokers.  And the National Cancer Institute conducted a survey in 2001 that found that the smokers most likely to use light cigarettes were also the ones most concerned about the toll smoking took on their health.

In addition to the FTC cigarette ratings system, the Senate committee will be taking a hard look at the FTC's jurisdiction over deceptive marketing and advertising practices used by the tobacco industry. The committee will explore tobacco companies' marketing of light cigarettes and cigarette design changes that further undermine the accuracy of the FTC test.

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Supreme Court to Rule on Change of Venue in Tobacco Case http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/supreme-court-to-rule-on-change-of-venue-in-tobacco-case Mon, 15 Jan 2007 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/supreme-court-to-rule-on-change-of-venue-in-tobacco-case
The original class-action suit, filed in Arkansas state court, accused Philip Morris of deceptive marketing tactics with regard to a couple of its “light” brands. However, the tobacco company, which is a division of Altria Group Inc., requested that the case be moved to federal court, claiming that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was the primary regulator of tobacco advertising.

The appellate court granted that request, but that decision is now being challenged by the plaintiffs in the case. Now, the Supreme Court must decide whether the appellate ruling was appropriate, much to the dismay of Philip Morris. Companies facing liability litigation prefer to have the cases heard in federal court, where they believe they have a batter chance of more favorable outcomes.

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Low-tar cigarettes don't reduce cancer chances http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/low-tar-cigarettes-dont-reduce-cancer-chances Tue, 14 Nov 2006 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/low-tar-cigarettes-dont-reduce-cancer-chances
The truth: Low-tar cigarettes, often labeled "light" or "ultra light," do not reduce your chances of developing lung cancer, research led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found. The National Cancer Institute agrees.

Tar is the sticky, brown residue condensed from the chemicals in cigarette smoke. It coats the lungs and contributes to lung cancer and other lung diseases.
    
The MIT study, from 2004, analyzed lung-cancer deaths and cigarette brands used among more than 940,000 smokers.

Regardless of the amount of machine-measured tar in their brand, all had a far greater risk of lung cancer than people who had never smoked or had quit, physician and MIT Professor Jeffrey Harris said when he released the study.

His team's research also found that the dangers for people who smoked cigarettes with very low tar (7 milligrams or less) and low tar (8-14 mg) were indistinguishable from those who smoked medium-tar cigarettes (15-21 mg).

Besides, smokers of light cigarettes don't necessarily decrease their tar intake, other studies have found, because they tend to inhale deeper and take more puffs to get a bigger hit of nicotine.

"The only proven way to reduce risk is to quit as soon as possible," Harris said.]]>
Judge allows class action tobacco suit http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/judge-allows-class-action-tobacco-suit Sun, 24 Sep 2006 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/judge-allows-class-action-tobacco-suit
U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein in Brooklyn made the ruling on a 2004 lawsuit that alleges Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Tobacco Co. and other defendants duped smokers, and responded to consumers' mounting health concerns with a campaign of deception designed to preserve revenue.

The class is anyone who purchased cigarettes that were labeled "light" or "lights" after they were put on the market, beginning in the early 1970s. The judge set a trial date of Jan. 22, 2007.

The judge's decision drove tobacco stock prices as much as 5 percent lower.

In arguing last week for the class certification, one smokers'  said the manufacturers used a marketing strategy that promoted light cigarettes as a lower-risk alternative to regular cigarettes, even though their own internal documents showed they knew the risks were about the same.

"They understood that they were selling death," he said. The question, he added, was "how to disguise it. They put on 'lights.'"

The plantiffs attorney told the judge that an analysis by plaintiffs' expert witnesses concluded more than 90 percent of the smokers in the potential class purchased light cigarettes over the past three decades based on health concerns, as opposed to taste or other factors.

A separate study found that smokers, had they known the truth about the health risks, would have expected discounts of 50 to 80 percent per pack, part of the basis for a demand for between $120 billion and $200 billion in damages, he said.

Defense attorneys argued that the lawsuit relied on flawed data and should not be certified as a class action. They also said that without surveying each smoker in the suit, it would be impossible to determine their motives for buying light cigarettes.

In his ruling Monday, Weinstein wrote that class action certification was "critical to plaintiffs' case."

"No other method of aggregation of tens of millions of smokers' claims is practicable. The small amount of possible recovery for each smoker could not justify the expensive and time-consuming pretrial and trial procedures required," he wrote.

Shares of Altria Group Inc., owner of the Marlboro maker Philip Morris USA Inc., sank $4.08, or 5 percent, to $78.24 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of Reynolds American Inc., owner of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and the second biggest U.S. cigarette company after Altria, fell $1.65, or 2.7 percent, to $60.37.

Shares of Carolina Group, which is the tracking stock for Loews Corp. and its Lorillard unit, fell $1.47, or 2.6 percent, to $54.41 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Analysts had expected downward pressure on tobacco shares if the class was certified, but still saw reason for optimism.

"We would expect the stock to trade down further as a result, but believe this would create a very attractive buying opportunity for investors," analyst Michael Smith of JPMorgan wrote.

It was not immediately clear how the ruling would affect Altria Group's plans to divest its controlling stake in Kraft Foods Inc. which had seemed to edge nearer after several recent legal rulings seen as favorable to tobacco companies.

But Smith said he expects Altria will announce the spin-off at an Oct. 25 board meeting despite Monday's ruling.

"The board is likely to view the risk from the case as manageable, due to the very high probability of any initial class certification being overturned on immediate appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and an overall litigation environment that is far better than in the past," he said.]]>
Tobacco firms lied to public, judge rules http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/tobacco-firms-lied-to-public-judge-rules Thu, 17 Aug 2006 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/tobacco-firms-lied-to-public-judge-rules
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler stopped short of ordering the companies to pay for a quit-smoking program.

The judge did order the companies to publish in newspapers and on their Web sites "corrective statements" on the adverse health effects and addictiveness of smoking and nicotine.

Kessler said that adoption of a national smoking cessation program, as sought by the government, "would unquestionably serve the public interest" but that she was barred by an appeals court ruling that said remedies must be forward-looking and not penalties for past actions.

The government had asked the judge to make the companies pay $10 billion for smoking cessation programs, though the Justice Department's own expert said $130 billion was needed.

That reduction in remedies led to accusations that Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum, a Bush administration political appointee, tried to weaken the case. However, an internal Justice Department cleared him of wrongdoing, saying he was supporting a figure he thought could be sustained on appeal.

Tobacco companies denied committing fraud and said changes in how cigarettes are sold now make it impossible for them to act fraudulently in the future.

Civil racketeering laws require a finding that fraud occurred. If a judge does make that finding, action must be taken to prevent it from occurring again.

The suit was first filed in 1999 under the Clinton administration. The Bush administration pursued it after receiving early criticism for openly discussing the case's perceived weaknesses and attempting unsuccessfully to settle it.

A separate court issued an interim ruling in the case last year, finding that civil racketeering laws did not permit the government to seek $280 billion from the companies for money they allegedly earned over many years through fraud.

During the trial, Kessler heard accusations that the companies established a "gentleman's agreement" in which they agreed not to compete over whose products were the least hazardous to smokers. That was to ensure they didn't have to publicly address the harm caused by smoking, government lawyers said. Tobacco lawyers denied the contention.

The government also argued that the tobacco industry has marketed to kids while lying about doing so. Again, tobacco lawyers denied the charge.

Kessler's decision came nearly a decade after the states reached legal settlements with the industry worth $246 billion and aimed at recovering health care costs. Those settlements imposed some restrictions on the industry, such as banning ads on billboards and public transportation.

The defendants in the federal lawsuit are: Philip Morris USA Inc. and its parent, Altria Group Inc.; R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co.; British American Tobacco Ltd.; Lorillard Tobacco Co.; Liggett Group Inc.; Counsel for Tobacco Research-U.S.A.; and the now-defunct Tobacco Institute.

The only cigarette maker excluded from Kessler's ruling was Liggett.]]>
New Study Finds Light Cigarette Smokers Are Less Likely to Quit, Shows Need for FDA Regulation to Stop Deceptive Tobacco Marketing http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/new-study-finds-light-cigarette-smokers-are-less-likely-to-quit-shows-need-for-fda-regulation-to-stop-deceptive-tobacco-marketing Thu, 29 Jun 2006 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/new-study-finds-light-cigarette-smokers-are-less-likely-to-quit-shows-need-for-fda-regulation-to-stop-deceptive-tobacco-marketing
Previous studies, including a landmark 2001 report by the National Cancer Institute, have found that cigarette manufacturers have deceptively marketed light and low-tar cigarettes as reducing health risks despite knowing from their own research that these cigarettes were no safer than regular brands. The new study indicates that this deceptive marketing has been all too effective. It appears to have encouraged smokers to switch to lights under the false impression it would protect their health and discouraged them from taking the one step that really can protect their health, which is to quit smoking entirely. The study found that smokers who switched to light cigarettes to reduce health risks were about 50 percent less likely to quit smoking than those who smoked non-light cigarettes.

The new study shows again that the deceptive marketing of light and low-tar cigarettes has been very harmful to the nation's health and must be stopped once and for all. The study underscores the need for Congress to pass legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) effective authority to regulate tobacco products. Among other things, the FDA would have the authority to ban deceptive terms like "light", "ultra- light" and "low-tar" and to strictly regulate other "reduced risk" claims about tobacco products to ensure they are scientifically proven and are not marketed in ways that encourage kids to start smoking or discourage smokers from quitting.

The new international tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, calls on ratifying nations to ban misleading or deceptive terms on tobacco product packages. Partly in response to the treaty, 33 countries have now banned the use of terms such as light and low-tar. It is a sad commentary that the United States, once the world's leader in reducing tobacco use, has fallen behind so much of the world in protecting its citizens from deceptive tobacco marketing. The U.S. has signed the tobacco treaty, but the Administration has kept it under review for more than two years and has yet to send it to the Senate for ratification.

The new study also has an important message for the nation's 45 million smokers: If you are concerned about your health, there is only one solution to quit smoking. There is no significant health difference between any of the cigarettes now on the market, and switching to light or low-tar cigarettes may actually decrease your chance of quitting.

Smokers can significantly increase their chances of quitting successfully by using scientifically proven methods, including telephone quitlines, counseling and FDA-approved medication. Federal and state elected leaders, as well as employers, need to do their part by adequately funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs that educate and motivate smokers to quit and providing affordable access to smoking cessation medication and counseling.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in our nation, claiming more than 400,000 lives and costing us more than $180 billion annually in health care bills and lost productivity. A successful effort to reduce tobacco's terrible toll must include FDA authority over tobacco products, including the authority to stop deceptive marketing, and a national commitment to providing smokers with the real tools they need to quit.

The study was conducted by University of Pittsburgh and Harvard University researchers.]]>
Second Huge Punitive Damage Award Allowed to Stand Against Philip Morris in California http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/second-huge-punitive-damage-award-allowed-to-stand-against-philip-morris-in-california Tue, 25 Apr 2006 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/second-huge-punitive-damage-award-allowed-to-stand-against-philip-morris-in-california
Only last month, the U.S. Supreme Court has denied the Petition for  a Writ of Certiorari on behalf of tobacco giant Philip Morris USA Inc. from a final disposition of the Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District.

In that case, brought by a man (Richard Boeken) who died of cancer in 2002, there had originally been a $3 billion punitive damage award in 2001 that was based on a jury finding that Philip Morris was liable for negligence, misrepresentation, fraud, and the sale of a defective product.

Boeken, who was 57 when he died, had been a two-pack-a-day smoker. The state court action had resulted in two post-trial reductions in the damage award. The first was to $100 million and the second to $50 million where it remained pending the Petition for Certiorari.

Philip Morris had based its argument to the Supreme Court on the “excessiveness” of the award and a claim that some of the plaintiff’s claims should have been dismissed.

Court records indicate that the Petition was filed on November 8, 2005. Before the response to the Petition was filed on February 13, 2006 ( after two extensions of time were granted), the Court permitted amicus curiae briefs to be filed by the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America and the Washington Legal Foundation.

Boeken had been a smoker since the age of 13, who had tried numerous ways to quit his addiction to smoking including hypnosis, stop-smoking classes, and nicotine gum.

Unable to quit, he switched to Marlboro Lights in the belief they were safer. Philip Morris claimed that it had never concealed information about so-called low-tar cigarettes. The jury did not agree.

While the refusal by the Supreme Court to hear the case was neither the equivalent of an affirmance of the determination of the California Court of Appeal nor an endorsement of the reasoning behind the punitive damage award that was permitted to remain, the denial of the Petition has the effect of allowing the California decision to stand.

Philip Morris and the rest of the tobacco industry had hoped the Supreme Court would accept the case in order to clarify the standard for calculating punitive damages and thereby greatly reduce that particular award and any others that may follow.
Now, another huge punitive damage award against Philip Morris has been permitted to stand after an appeal to the California Court of Appeal.

This time, the case involved a woman (Betty Bullock), who had smoked various Philip Morris cigarette brands between 1956 and 2001. Bullock, who was 17 when she began smoking, died of lung cancer in 2003 at the age of 64.
The original jury award was for $850,000 in compensatory damages and $28 billion in punitive damages. The trial judge reduced the punitive damage portion of the award to $28 million.

On Friday, the Court of Appeal affirmed the punitive damage award as reduced rejecting the tobacco giant’s argument that the $28 million exceeded permissible limits on such awards set by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Although it remains to be seen whether Philip Morris intends to seek Certiorari from the Supreme Court, last month’s denial of the petition in the Boeken case, where the punitive damage award was almost twice as large, would seem to indicate that such a move would be little more than a delaying tactic with no likelihood of success.
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Report Accuses Cigarette Makers of Intentionally Deceiving Consumers and Regulators Regarding Toxicity of 'Low Tar' Brands http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/report-accuses-cigarette-makers-of-intentionally-deceiving-consumers-and-regulators-regarding-toxicity-of-low-tar-brands Thu, 09 Feb 2006 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/report-accuses-cigarette-makers-of-intentionally-deceiving-consumers-and-regulators-regarding-toxicity-of-low-tar-brands
In reaching their conclusion that the only safe way to protect people from second-hand smoke in public places is to introduce a comprehensive ban on smoking in all such places, the team analyzed “internal corporate documents from BAT held in depositories in Minnesota and Guilford set up as a result of litigation against tobacco companies, and documents from online databases of tobacco documents (www.tobaccodocuments.org).”

What the researchers found was a well orchestrated plan by the tobacco industry to “create public doubt about and refute the scientific evidence on the adverse health consequences of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.”

Despite compelling evidence that the air filtration system was ineffective and did little to remove the “harmful gas phase smoke constituents including carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds,” BAT concluded that the system “was a cost-effective way for removing ETS (environmental tobacco smoke)…would prove a useful device to incorporate into specific environments where BAT might want to…gain commercial advantages over its competitors, and should result in ‘direct benefits in terms of…brand (or corporate) awareness and image transfer.”

A BAT scientist even went so far as to write that the company’s interest in the system was primarily, “To negate the need for indoor smoking bans around the world…”

Documents showed that BAT continued to install the system in public places like a Brussels airport lounge, even though the company knew the unit to be inadequate, and used it as a vehicle by which to heavily advertise Barclay cigarettes. In essence, BAT had turned the ineffective air filtration system into a billboard “to market BAT’s products.”

BAT also targeted the hospitality industry with a marketing campaign “pushing a so-called ‘smoker resocialisation’ initiative, which aimed to portray smoking in a ‘more positive and stylish context’ and to lobby against smoke-free public places.”

Remarkably, the team found from internal documents: “Although BAT’s board of directors was not convinced of the effectiveness of air filtration units, the Colt units continued to be installed at locations worldwide even in the face of failed performance.”

As time progressed, the units changed shape and size but remained ineffective. Removing the smoky haze from a room is about all they did. Yet the same BAT scientist, Nigel Warren” seized on this illusion of safety as promoting a “possible perceived solution to the ‘problems’ of smoking in public.”

Throughout its campaign, BAT was found to be more concerned with its public image as “accommodating smokers and non-smokers through the use of filtration and ventilation methods” than anything else.

A summary of the researchers’ findings is as follows:

•    “Ventilation and air filtration are ineffective at removing environmental tobacco smoke”
•    “Despite this knowledge, BAT extensively promoted these technologies to the hospitality industry”
•    Internal documents show such strategies were viewed as viable solutions to circumvent smoking restrictions and gain global marketing opportunities”
•    A total ban on smoking in public places is the only way to protect all employees from environmental tobacco smoke”
      
Now, only days after these revelations of highly questionable conduct by British American Tobacco (BAT), a new study indicates that BAT and ITL (International Tobacco Limited) had developed a marketing strategy specifically designed to hide the high level of toxicity of their so-called “low tar” brands.

In the study published in The Lancet, David Hammond and colleagues at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, reviewed internal company documents and found that BAT and ITL devised a strategy to get around some extremely negative data concerning the actual toxicity of their “low tar” cigarettes.

According to the documents, the cigarette makers were aware that smokers typically draw puff volumes almost double the size of the International Standards Smoking (ISO) machine, which is used in standard testing protocols. When that fact was taken into consideration, these “low tar” brands delivered potent levels of tar and nicotine to smokers.

According to the report, the companies looked to maximize the discrepancy between the low machine yields, which is commonly the information used in marketing campaigns and printed on cigarette packages, and the levels of tar and nicotine actually inhaled by smokers.

These cigarettes were then marketed as low-tar alternatives to other cigarettes in order attract health-concerned smokers.

The study found that BAT used this strategy despite the health risks to smokers, and ignored ethical concerns voiced by senior scientists within its own ranks.

"Overall, these documents depict a deliberate strategy whereby BAT and ITL (Imperial Tobacco Limited) designed products that would fool their consumers and regulators into thinking these products were safer or less hazardous when they were not," the study authors wrote.

"Moreover, this product strategy remains in place today, as does the tool of its deception, the ISO cigarette testing protocols. The current review leaves little doubt that the ISO standards should be discarded in favor of new standards that meet the needs of consumers and regulators, rather than those of the tobacco industry.”

(Sources: HealthDay News 2/8/06; Medical News Today 2/8/06; BMJ 1/28/06; The Lancet Online 2/7/06.]]>
Supreme Court of Oregon Upholds $79.5 Million in Punitive Damages against Philip Morris http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/supreme-court-of-oregon-upholds-795-million-in-punitive-damages-against-philip-morris Fri, 03 Feb 2006 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/supreme-court-of-oregon-upholds-795-million-in-punitive-damages-against-philip-morris
As a result of this strategy, the tobacco cases in litigation have slowly made their way through the discovery process, trial, and numerous appeals before reaching conclusion. Many times, appellate courts have overturned or greatly reduced damage awards. In some cases, verdicts in favor of plaintiffs have been set aside and the cases dismissed on appeal due to insufficient evidence on the issue of causation.

In many cases, however, plaintiffs have succeeded in prevailing before a jury and then defending that victory in the appellate courts. Such is the case with the family of Jesse D. Williams, a 67-year-old janitor who died of lung cancer in 1997.

On Thursday, The Columbian reported in an Associated Press release that: “The Oregon Supreme Court upheld a $79.5 million punitive damages award to the family of an Oregon smoker who died of lung cancer, saying the amount isn't excessive given the ‘reprehensible’ conduct of tobacco giant Philip Morris in marketing cigarettes.”

This decision “upholds a lower court ruling and responds to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that asked Oregon courts to consider whether the award in the lawsuit against Philip Morris, a unit of Altria Group Inc., was excessive. The state Supreme Court said it was not excessive, given ‘such extreme and outrageous circumstances.’”

The Williams case started its long journey through the appellate process in 1999 when a jury in Oregon county court returned a verdict for $500,000 in compensatory (non-economic) damages for conscious pain and suffering in addition to a $79.5 million award of punitive damages.

Although the lawsuit and ensuing appeals were state-based and not in federal court, a 2003 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Oregon courts “ to review the award to ensure it was not unconstitutionally excessive under new standards for punitive damages adopted by the high court.”

An intermediate Oregon appellate court reviewed the award in accordance with the Supreme Court directive and found it was not excessive. The state’s highest court has now affirmed that determination.

While the decision marks the end of the case insofar as the Oregon courts are concerned, it remains to be seen if Philip Morris will simply pay the massive award or make some additional procedural attempt to gain further review of the matter before the Supreme Court.]]>
Judgment Against Philip Morris Is Upheld http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/judgment-against-philip-morris-is-upheld Thu, 02 Feb 2006 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/judgment-against-philip-morris-is-upheld
The decision upholds a lower court ruling and responds to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that asked Oregon courts to consider whether the award in the lawsuit against Philip Morris USA Inc., a unit of Altria Group Inc., was excessive.

The state Supreme Court said it was not, given "such extreme and outrageous circumstances."

"Philip Morris knew that smoking caused serious and sometimes fatal disease, but it nevertheless spread false or misleading information to suggest to the public that doubts remained about the issue," the court said.

"It deliberately did so to keep smokers smoking, knowing that it was putting the smokers' health and lives at risk, and it continued to do so for nearly half a century," it said.

Philip Morris said Thursday it would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case again.

The company said the Oregon court's decision violated the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 guidelines for punitive damages, which said that punitive damages generally shouldn't be greater than actual damages.

The tobacco company is the nation's biggest tobacco company and makes top-selling Marlboro cigarettes. Altria shares fell $1, or 1.4 percent, to $72.50 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The ruling in the Oregon case comes less than two months after the tobacco industry won a major victory when the Illinois Supreme Court tossed out a $10.1 billion fraud judgment against Philip Morris over the marketing of its "light" cigarettes.

In Florida, the state Supreme Court is still reviewing a $145 billion punitive damage award in the Engle class action case that was overturned on appeal.

The Oregon court upheld a 1999 Multnomah County jury award of $79.5 million in punitive damages to the family of Jesse D. Williams, a janitor who died in 1997 of lung cancer at the age of 67. The man's family also was awarded $500,000 in non-economic damages, to compensate for pain and suffering.

An attorney for Williams' family, James S. Coon, said, "We think it's the right decision."

According to testimony in the trial, Williams started smoking in the 1950s when serving in the Army in Korea, and later he smoked three packs of Marlboros a day.

Williams' family said he kept smoking because he did not believe a company would sell something that was truly harmful.

After the jury ordered the company to pay the Williams family $79.5 million in punitive damages, the judge reduced the award to $32 million. The state appeals court reinstated the jury's punitive damage award in 2002.

In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Oregon courts to review the award to ensure it was not unconstitutionally excessive under new standards for punitive damages adopted by the high court.

A state appeals court said in 2004 that the award wasn't excessive, and the state Supreme Court decision upholds that decision.

The $79.5 million award would be a windfall not only for the man's family, but for the state.

Under state law, 60 percent of punitive damages in such cases go to the state, which in turn uses the money to support crime victims assistance programs.]]>
Philip Morris Faces Targeted by Federal Lawsuit Seeking Cancer Screenings for Heavy Marlboro Smokers http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/philip-morris-faces-targeted-by-federal-lawsuit-seeking-cancer-screenings-for-heavy-marlboro-smokers Sat, 21 Jan 2006 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/philip-morris-faces-targeted-by-federal-lawsuit-seeking-cancer-screenings-for-heavy-marlboro-smokers
The smokers (current and former) are all over 50 years of age and have smoked a pack or more of Marlboro cigarettes a day for 20 years. According to the complaint, the New York plaintiffs are not seeking monetary awards in the form of punitive or compensatory damages.

A statement from Altria Group Inc., the parent of Philip Morris, said that, while the company had not yet seen the lawsuit, juries in two previous cases of smoker’s seeking payment for "medical monitoring," have returned verdicts in favor of the company.

The complaint alleges that Philip Morris should pay for the scans because its "misconduct in manufacturing and selling Marlboro cigarettes was and remains egregious and renders it liable."

New York attorney Jerome Block, who represents the plaintiffs, estimated the class size in the "tens of thousands" and said annual scans cost at around $500 each.

According to Block: "With early detection, the lung cancer can be found while it is still curable. Stage-one lung cancers are very curable but most lung cancer is diagnosed too late for treatment."

The Lung Cancer Alliance says that lung cancer is the No. 1 killer of all cancers, resulting in 30% of all cancer deaths and killing more people annually than kidney, breast, prostate, colon, and liver cancers combined.

Studies have shown that a low-dose CT scan can help detect cancer early while minimizing the risk of cancer from the X-ray procedure itself.

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Despite Big Tobacco's Denial, Critics Claim Flavored Cigarettes Target Kids http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/despite-big-tobacco039s-denial-critics-claim-flavored-cigarettes-target-kids Wed, 18 Jan 2006 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/despite-big-tobacco039s-denial-critics-claim-flavored-cigarettes-target-kids
There is no dispute that the survival of the multi-billion dollar industry requires a steady (and substantial) influx of new smokers to replace an aging consumer base that is losing large numbers of long-time smokers to death, aggressive stop-smoking initiatives, and state laws that either ban smoking in many or all public places or levy hefty taxes on those purchasing cigarettes.

Thus, it is not so farfetched to assume that the industry needs to recruit a percentage of the under-21 demographic in order to perpetuate itself. Clearly, while Big Tobacco pays off substantial class-action and individual settlements, defends ongoing litigation in many states, and awaits a federal judge’s decision on conspiracy charges, it is not an industry that appears to be planning its own funeral just yet.  

Flavored cigarettes were introduced around 1999 but have been more aggressively marketed in the past few years.  According to many experts, the latest release of new flavors appears to be directly correlated to the increase in advertising and marketing restrictions that have made it more difficult for manufacturers to sell their product to young smokers.

While tobacco manufacturers strongly maintain that they are not trying to promote underage or youth smoking, critics are doubtful given these new candy-like names.  Consumer advocacy groups are urging parents to speak to state legislators about enacting bans on the flavored cigarettes.

According to the American Lung Association, one-third of all smokers had their first experience with tobacco by the time they were 14 years old.  Experts argue that teenagers need to be deterred from smoking, not attracted to it by enticing new gimmicks like flavored cigarettes.

Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia have already introduced legislation to ban flavored cigarettes.  

Critics believe that the marketing of flavored cigarettes is in direct violation of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between state attorneys general and major U.S. tobacco manufacturers.  At that time, the companies agreed to modify their marketing campaigns.  Tobacco companies also agreed to promote and finance an extensive anti-smoking campaign and to release information to the public that had formerly been guarded.  

Carrie Carpenter, a research analyst at the Harvard School of Public Health, argued that there is specific documentation that “this concept of flavored cigarettes has been associated with new and younger smokers.”  

Carpenter, along with a group of researchers from Harvard that she led, has published a report on the subject in a recent issue of the journal Health Affairs.  

When surveyed, young smokers said that the “aftertaste” associated with cigarette smoking was one of their concerns. That offensive aftertaste is partially eliminated by the “pellet technology” which is used in certain flavored tobacco products.  

Carpenter argues that it is highly suspect to see the tobacco companies increase the amount and variety of these flavored products in what appears to be a response to this information about the preferences of young smokers.

Carpenter is also concerned that there could be possible health risks associated with the pellets that are inserted in the filter area of a cigarette in order to provide a controlled release of the flavor.

Fred McConnell, a spokesperson for R.J. Reynolds, the manufacturers of the new flavored cigarettes, argued that they are not intentionally targeting minors with their new products. “We don’t want children to smoke, not only because it is illegal to sell minors in every state, but also because children lack the maturity of judgment to assess the inherent health risks of smoking.”

Parents should be aware of the enticing nature of flavored cigarettes and should speak to their children and adolescents about the severe health risks associated with smoking any kind of tobacco product. 
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Vermont Attorney General Sues Reynolds American Inc. for False and Misleading Cigarette Marketing Claims http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/vermont-attorney-general-sues-reynolds-american-inc-for-false-and-misleading-cigarette-marketing-claims Thu, 28 Jul 2005 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/vermont-attorney-general-sues-reynolds-american-inc-for-false-and-misleading-cigarette-marketing-claims
The lawsuit is the result of a multi-state investigation into whether enough scientific evidence exists to support the claim that Eclipse is safer than regular cigarettes. Specifically, Reynolds American claims that Eclipse (introduced in 2003) “may present less risk of cancer, chronic bronchitis, and possibly emphysema.”

The claim is also made that eclipse is the “nest best choice” after quitting for health-conscious smokers because it “responds to concerns about certain smoking related-related illnesses…including cancer.”

The Attorney General’s position is that the scientific evidence does not support these claims of a “less harmful” cigarette and, thus, the marketing campaign is in violation of the terms of the 1998 settlement wherein the tobacco industry was prohibited from misrepresenting facts about the health risks associated with tobacco use.

Reynolds American has taken the position that there is “adequate scientific evidence to defend the claims we make on Eclipse.” The company cites chemical testing and animal studies to support its position. Most experts, however, remain unconvinced that any of the “gimmicks” being used to market “less harmful” or “healthier” cigarettes are supported by any scientific proof at all.

In fact, it appears that just the opposite may be true as the debate over these reduced-harm cigarettes grows.

As newsinferno.com reported only this week, a new study conducted at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, and published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine has found a significant percentage of smokers mistakenly believe cigarettes marketed as “less harmful” are safer than regular cigarettes.

While these researchers and others before them have found no credible evidence that any cigarette advertised as “less harmful” is any safer than traditional brands, too few smokers seem to know that.

Of the 2,000 adult smokers surveyed, only 39% had heard of these “less harmful” cigarettes and even fewer (27%) could actually name a brand. Finally, 25% actually believed they were not as dangerous as regular cigarettes. Those over 55 were more likely to have heard of these products.

Whether the claim involved is the older marketing ploy of reduced toxin exposure, “light” (or “ultra-light) or “low tar” or the newer approach of “less harmful,” herbal, or “smoke-free,” the same percentage of those surveyed believed there to be less danger involved.

Over 50% of those surveyed were already smoking “light” or “ultra-light” brands.

The researchers stated that because smokers are “confused” by advertising claims, those companies marketing any cigarette in this questionable category “should be required to demonstrate convincingly that smokers will not be confused or misled by the marketing claims.”

The results of this survey, however, should not surprise anyone familiar with the history of cigarette advertising since the tobacco industry has always led the public to believe that smoking “light” or “low tar” versions of cigarettes is less harmful because health risks are minimized.

Studies have indicated that this is not really the case at all. There are a number of factors which show that the information provided by the tobacco industry is indeed misleading.

•  A report published by the National Cancer Institute found that people who switched to low-tar cigarettes actually smoked more in order to get the same total amount of nicotine. For the most part, the ratio between tar and nicotine remains the same in all cigarettes and, therefore, the risk for the smoker exposing his or her lungs to the carcinogenic ingredients remains the same. The same report found that smokers of these “mild” brands inhale eight times more nicotine than the amount listed on the packet. “The [report] clearly demonstrates that people who switch to ‘low-tar’ or ‘light’ cigarettes…are likely to inhale the same amount of cancer-causing toxins,” says Scott Leischow, Ph.D., Chief of the NCI Tobacco Control Research Branch. “Scientific research does not show that changes in cigarette design and manufacturing over the last 50 years have benefited public health.”

• According to an analysis in Tobacco Control, a British Medical Association publication, many tobacco companies recognized that low tar products were as dangerous as regular cigarettes, yet continued to market them as “healthier” alternatives. The industry believed that, with all the evidence linking tobacco with lung cancer, smokers would be encouraged to quit and thus they devised “low tar” and “light” products in order to reassure them that smoking was not as bad as they originally thought.

• Cigarettes that are branded as “hi-fi” or “high filtration” imply that they are somehow able to reduce health risks associated with smoking. This filtering ploy has been described in industry documents as “an effective advertising gimmick” which was merely cosmetic, offering “the image of health reassurance.”

•  While some test results related to “low tar/light” cigarettes seemed to illustrate they are a healthier alternative to full-flavor cigarettes, the test results themselves are subject to question. The tobacco industry designed cigarettes specifically so that the Federal Trade Commission tests, which have used smoking machines since the 1960s to determine the levels of smoke toxicity, would find that these “light” and “low-tar” cigarettes yield less tar when smoked. In actuality, they still deliver full doses of tar and nicotine to actual smokers.

• Although low-tar cigarettes are frequently made with porous paper and more loosely packed tobacco in an effort to reduce tar intake, research has shown that smokers will still receive the maximum levels of tar because they will usually take more (and deeper) puffs or smoke more total cigarettes per day. Some of these cigarettes also have small holes in the filters designed to dilute the tar and nicotine with air. Reports show, however, that many people will consciously or unconsciously cover these holes with their mouths while smoking thus receiving the same amounts of tar and nicotine as in regular cigarettes.

• In a study conducted in 2002 by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, less than 10% of smokers nationwide knew that one light cigarette could deliver the same amount of tar as one regular cigarette.

•  William Farone, a former employee of Phillip Morris, the nation’s largest cigarette manufacturer, has testified that the company increased the tar in one “low-tar” brand, Cambridge Lights, from 0 to 12 mg. over a seven-year period. The company never told consumers that the tar content had gradually been increased. Smokers of that brand as well as smokers who bought Marlboro Lights subsequently sued Phillip Morris on the grounds that the label “lights” was deceptive regarding tar and nicotine levels. (The lawsuit was for the refund of money they paid for the cigarettes as opposed to one for personal injuries). A spokesman for Phillip Morris said that the company did not want the terms “light” and “low-tar” banned from cigarette packs but would support greater regulation of their use.

Clearly, a significant number of smokers are being taken in by the tobacco industry’s unsubstantiated and misleading advertising campaigns with respect to various “less harmful” cigarettes. Once that happens, people will be less likely to attempt to quit. They may even be encouraged to take up smoking again after successfully quitting. It would seem that the multi-state governmental investigation and the Vermont Attorney General agree. 
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Many Smokers Remain Misinformed as to the Significant Health Risks Posed By So-Called "Less Harmful” Cigarettes http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/many-smokers-remain-misinformed-as-to-the-significant-health-risks-posed-by-so-called-less-harmful-cigarettes Sat, 23 Jul 2005 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/many-smokers-remain-misinformed-as-to-the-significant-health-risks-posed-by-so-called-less-harmful-cigarettes
While these researchers and others before them have found no credible evidence that any cigarette advertised as “less harmful” is any safer than traditional brands, too few smokers seem to know that.

Of the 2,000 adult smokers surveyed, only 39% had heard of these “less harmful” cigarettes and even fewer (27%) could actually name a brand. Finally, 25% actually believed they were not as dangerous as regular cigarettes. Those over 55 were more likely to have heard of these products.

Whether the claim involved is the older marketing ploy of reduced toxin exposure, “light” (or “ultra-light) or “low tar” or the newer approach of “less harmful,” herbal, or “smoke-free,” the same percentage of those surveyed believed there to be less danger involved.

Over 50% of those surveyed were already smoking “light” or “ultra-light” brands.

The researchers stated that because smokers are “confused” by advertising claims, those companies marketing any cigarette in this questionable category “should be required to demonstrate convincingly that smokers will not be confused or misled by the marketing claims.”

The results of this survey, however, should not surprise anyone familiar with the history of cigarette advertising since the tobacco industry has always led the public to believe that smoking “light” or “low tar” versions of cigarettes is less harmful because health risks are minimized.

Studies have indicated that this is not really the case at all. There are a number of factors which show that the information provided by the tobacco industry is indeed misleading.

•    A report published by the National Cancer Institute found that people who switched to low-tar cigarettes actually smoked more in order to get the same total amount of nicotine. For the most part, the ratio between tar and nicotine remains the same in all cigarettes and, therefore, the risk for the smoker exposing his or her lungs to the carcinogenic ingredients remains the same. The same report found that smokers of these “mild” brands inhale eight times more nicotine than the amount listed on the packet. “The [report] clearly demonstrates that people who switch to ‘low-tar’ or ‘light’ cigarettes…are likely to inhale the same amount of cancer-causing toxins,” says Scott Leischow, Ph.D., Chief of the NCI Tobacco Control Research Branch. “Scientific research does not show that changes in cigarette design and manufacturing over the last 50 years have benefited public health.”

•    According to an analysis in Tobacco Control, a British Medical Association publication, many tobacco companies recognized that low tar products were as dangerous as regular cigarettes, yet continued to market them as “healthier” alternatives. The industry believed that, with all the evidence linking tobacco with lung cancer, smokers would be encouraged to quit and thus they devised “low tar” and “light” products in order to reassure them that smoking was not as bad as they originally thought.

•    Cigarettes that are branded as “hi-fi” or “high filtration” imply that they are somehow able to reduce health risks associated with smoking. This filtering ploy has been described in industry documents as “an effective advertising gimmick” which was merely cosmetic, offering “the image of health reassurance.”

•    While some test results related to “low tar/light” cigarettes seemed to illustrate they are a healthier alternative to full-flavor cigarettes, the test results themselves are subject to question. The tobacco industry designed cigarettes specifically so that the Federal Trade Commission tests, which have used smoking machines since the 1960s to determine the levels of smoke toxicity, would find that these “light” and “low-tar” cigarettes yield less tar when smoked. In actuality, they still deliver full doses of tar and nicotine to actual smokers.

•    Although low-tar cigarettes are frequently made with porous paper and more loosely packed tobacco in an effort to reduce tar intake, research has shown that smokers will still receive the maximum levels of tar because they will usually take more (and deeper) puffs or smoke more total cigarettes per day. Some of these cigarettes also have small holes in the filters designed to dilute the tar and nicotine with air. Reports show, however, that many people will consciously or unconsciously cover these holes with their mouths while smoking thus receiving the same amounts of tar and nicotine as in regular cigarettes.

•    In a study conducted in 2002 by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, less than 10% of smokers nationwide knew that one light cigarette could deliver the same amount of tar as one regular cigarette.

•    William Farone, a former employee of Phillip Morris, the nation’s largest cigarette manufacturer, has testified that the company increased the tar in one “low-tar” brand, Cambridge Lights, from 0 to 12 mg. over a seven-year period. The company never told consumers that the tar content had gradually been increased. Smokers of that brand as well as smokers who bought Marlboro Lights subsequently sued Phillip Morris on the grounds that the label “lights” was deceptive regarding tar and nicotine levels. (The lawsuit was for the refund of money they paid for the cigarettes as opposed to one for personal injuries). A spokesman for Phillip Morris said that the company did not want the terms “light” and “low-tar” banned from cigarette packs but would support greater regulation of their use.

Clearly, a significant number of smokers are being taken in by the tobacco industry’s unsubstantiated and misleading advertising campaigns with respect to various “less harmful” cigarettes. Once that happens, people will be less likely to attempt to quit. They may even be encouraged to take up smoking again after successfully quitting.
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AS 700,000 HEALTH PROFESSIONALS JOIN TOBACCO CONTROL EFFORTS, EVIDENCE SURFACES THAT CIGARETTE MARKETING CAMPAIGNS SPECIFICALLY TARGETED WOMEN http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/as-700000-health-professionals-join-tobacco-control-efforts-evidence-surfaces-that-cigarette-marketing-campaigns-specifically-targeted-women Wed, 01 Jun 2005 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/as-700000-health-professionals-join-tobacco-control-efforts-evidence-surfaces-that-cigarette-marketing-campaigns-specifically-targeted-women
The goal of PAHO is to significantly reduce tobacco use, which now claims more than 1,000,000 lives annually in the Americas, by enlisting health professionals as advocates for governmental policies to help prevent and treat addiction. The Declaration of the Americas which each of the 520 groups was asked to sign contains a pledge for healthcare organizations to reject tobacco industry support, make themselves tobacco-free, promote the inclusion of tobacco control topics in their conferences and curricula, advocate strong tobacco control policies, and support their patients in quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke.

At the same time PAHO is mounting its effort to spread information globally on the extreme dangers associated with tobacco use and secondhand smoke, startling new evidence has emerged as to the lengths cigarette companies were (and still are) willing to go to in order to acquire as many new smokers as possible. There has already been much written about how the tobacco industry targeted young people through creative advertising campaigns and promotional giveaways. Now, the very same thing has come to light with respect to the targeting of women.

Only this week, health researchers revealed that a review of some 7 million internal documents obtained under a 1998 court settlement show tobacco companies created cigarette designs and types to attract women. The industry clearly made every effort to determine what might make cigarettes more palatable to women. As a result, "slim" and "light" brands were marketed along with brands specifically named with women in mind. Consideration was even given to marketing cigarettes that contained appetite suppressants so they could be promoted as weight control products.

The study of the marketing strategies demonstrates that the tobacco industry sought to associate cigarettes with concepts such as stress reduction, weight control, and good health. Marketing strategies included linking smoking to appealing attributes like female liberation, glamour, success, and thinness. Low tar and nicotine ("light" brands) even sought to win over women who were reluctant to smoke because of health concerns.]]>
Tobacco Companies Used Psychological Means To Deliberately Target Women http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/tobacco-companies-used-psychological-means-to-deliberately-target-women Tue, 31 May 2005 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/tobacco-companies-used-psychological-means-to-deliberately-target-women
Apparently internal documents released by tobacco companies under a 1998 court settlement show the companies created cigarettes, including "slim" and so-called "light" brands, in part to attract women.

Carrie Murray Carpenter of the Harvard School of Public Health, who led the study, says the documents reveal that the tobacco industry's targeting of women goes far beyond marketing and advertising, and their study of tobacco company documents show a clear effort to find out what might make women want to smoke. She said at one point the companies considered putting appetite suppressants into cigarettes so they could promote them as weight control products.

Carpenter says it is unfortunate that the industry used these findings to exploit women and not help them. The team said tobacco companies' efforts to attract women included the creation of "slim" cigarettes in the 1970s.

Jack Henningfield of Johns Hopkins University and colleagues comments that the companies manipulated cigarette designs and ingredients in an effort to make cigarettes more palatable to women and to complement advertising allusions of smooth, healthy, weight-controlling, stress-reducing smoke.

The study demonstrates that marketing strategies adopted by the tobacco companies, especially for female brands, have contributed to the association of smoking with appealing attributes including female liberation, glamour, success and thinness.

They also targeted "light" cigarette brands, with their promise of smaller amounts of harmful tar and nicotine, at women torn between the desire to smoke and health worries.

Carpenter's team sifted through more than 7 million internal tobacco industry documents made public through the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the state attorneys general and major U.S. tobacco manufacturers including Altria Group Inc.'s Philip Morris USA unit, Reynolds American and British American Tobacco (BAT).

Quoting from one 1982 BAT document the team found that the companies 'safely concluded that the strength of cigarettes that are purchased by women is related to their degree of neuroticism and women buy cigarettes in order to help them cope with neuroticism'.

One 1985 Philip Morris document is quoted as reading that 'Women do not want to stop smoking, yet they are guilt-ridden with concerns for their families if smoking should badly damage their own health, they compromise by smoking low-tar cigarettes'.

Carpenter's team say that understanding what the companies have done, is the key to finding ways to help women quit smoking.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 19 percent of adult women and 24 percent of adult men in the U.S.smoke. Smoking is the single biggest cause of heart disease and cancer.

Spokespeople for Philip Morris and Altria said they had not seen the full reports and could not immediately comment.]]>
Study: Tobacco Cos. Wooed Female Smokers http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/study-tobacco-cos-wooed-female-smokers Tue, 31 May 2005 00:00:00 -0400 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/study-tobacco-cos-wooed-female-smokers
Researchers at Harvard University's School of Public Health said they examined more than 7 million documents some dating back to 1969, others as recent as 2000 for new details about the industry's efforts to lure more women smokers.

Carrie Carpenter, the study's lead author, said companies' research went far beyond a marketing or advertising campaign.

"They did so much research in such a sophisticated way," she said. "Women should know how far the tobacco industry went to exploit them."

The report, published in the June issue of the journal Addiction, says tobacco companies looked for ways to modify their cigarettes to give women the illusion they could puff their way into a better life.

One of the documents, a 1987 internal report from Philip Morris, extolled the virtues of making a longer, slimmer cigarette that offered the false promise of a "healthier" product.

"Most smokers have little notion of their brand's tar and nicotine levels," the report states. "Perception is more important than reality, and in this case the perception is of reduced tobacco consumption."

A Philip Morris spokesman declined to comment on the report, saying the company hasn't had a chance to fully review it.

The Harvard researchers spent more than a year sifting through an online database of internal documents made public following the 1998 settlement between tobacco companies and 46 states.

Carpenter said they found at least 320 documents that focused on women's smoking patterns, including a 1982 report from British-American Tobacco Co. that said women buy cigarettes to help them "cope with neuroticism."

"We can safely conclude that the strength of cigarettes that are purchased by women is related to their degree of neuroticism," the report stated.

Other internal studies showed that companies explored adding appetite suppressants to cigarettes.

In 1980, for instance, R.J. Reynolds Co. proposed creating a cigarette with a "unique flavor that decreases a smoker's appetite, including brandy, chocolate, chocolate mint, cinnamon, spearmint and honey."

However, researchers didn't find any evidence they followed through with that idea. Officials at R.J. Reynolds didn't respond to requests for comment.

Paul Bloom, a marketing professor in the business school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, noted that cigarettes aren't the only "sin product" marketed specifically to women.

"For a long time, they just marketed beer to men. Then they discovered women would drink it, too," Bloom said. "Now binge drinking on campus is just as big a problem with women as it is with men."

Worldwide smoking rates among women are expected to increase 20 percent by 2025, "driven by the growth of female markets in developing countries," while men's smoking rates are steadily declining, the Harvard report says.

Jack Henningfield, a professor of behavioral biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said he hopes the report serves as a "call to action" for government officials to focus their anti-smoking efforts on women, particularly in developing countries.

"It's a time bomb," said Henningfield, director of the Innovators Combating Substance Abuse Program at Johns Hopkins. "They've got to act now to prevent the time bomb from exploding."

Carpenter said there is no evidence in the trove of documents that suggests tobacco companies have stopped targeting women.

"Without regulation from government agencies, we don't know what they're doing today," she added.

The Harvard research project was funded in part by the National Cancer Institute.]]>
Light Cigarettes - Deadly Despite The Name http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/light-cigarettes-deadly-despite-the-name Wed, 23 Feb 2005 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/light-cigarettes-deadly-despite-the-name
So-called light cigarettes are largely a result of the industry successfully selling the idea that machine-testing of tar and nicotine is a reliable basis for consumers to differentiate brands.

The problem is that people do not smoke like machines. Smoke-testing machines do not get addicted to nicotine and so, unlike humans, do not take more and deeper puffs, smoke light cigarettes down further, or smoke more cigarettes to get the nicotine that their brain cries out for hundreds of times a day.

So what is a light cigarette? Basically, it's much the same as a regular cigarette except for one vital little matter that the industry fails to tell its customers. Mild and light cigarettes are perforated with microscopically small air holes just in front of the filter.
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When the mouth of the smoking machine grips the cigarette, air rushes in through the holes and dilutes the smoke, causing lower tar and nicotine readings. Smokers don't know about the holes, but their brains do.

They quickly learn to compensate by either smoking more, deeper or by unconsciously blocking some of the holes with their lips and fingers, giving them an intake that machine-testing would never record. This is bad news for the health of smokers who buy these products and, to date, good news for companies which saw light cigarettes as a liferaft, for them, which they could throw to desperate consumers thinking of quitting.

Evidence presented to the commission by health groups was undeniable. Much of it came from the industry's internal documents. These documents show the industry nakedly exploited smokers' health concerns.

As far back as 1983 British American Tobacco (BAT) knew Australian "smokers of the ultra low tar brands are very conscious of the smoking and health controversy, but that smokers of 6-9 mg tar brands split between those wanting mildness per se and those wanting smoker reassurance".

In 1994 BAT knew that 16 per cent of smokers in Australia believed "lights would be safer for health reasons" with a "key finding" that lights were "perceived as a clever psychological ruse intimating that the smoker was indulging in a low tar content cigarette, an innocuous cigarette".

Philip Morris which, after a corporate makeover, calls itself Altria, owes most of its $US131 billion ($170 billion) global value to its cigarette division. It also owns Kraft, maker of Vegemite and peanut butter, one version of which is labelled light.

Altria's Kraft division knows that "light" means "healthier". But down the corporate corridor in the tobacco division, executives want to tell us that it doesn't mean that at all. It means "light taste", and has nothing to do with promoting a health message.

The ACCC's call has come as no surprise to the local industry, whose overseas parents have been prevented from using such words in the European Union since 2003. But the Australian divisions were happy to continue to exploit this outrageous fraud for as long as it took for local regulators to wise up.

Industry sources insist that "descriptors" would still be needed to differentiate varieties of the same brand, repeating the line about the differences being all about taste, not health.

According to one report, the ACCC may accept smooth and fresh as substitutes. Fresh carcinogens? A smooth journey to emphysema, lung cancer or heart disease for one in two long-term users?

The consequences of this conduct are more serious than a telco diddling consumers out of a few hundred dollars with some misleading small contract print or a bait-and-lure ad for sale goods that mysteriously were sold out before the doors opened.

These are the sort of cases where we have become used to seeing the commission chesting companies in court, or negotiating a few days of corrective advertising.

Here, we have a very big, deadly fish on the line with fearsome financial teeth, and in the case of one company, a former state Liberal premier as chairman.

Its behaviour in this decades-long fraud has misled countless Australian smokers into thinking they are reducing their health risks. Many have and will die early as a result. This looms as the biggest test yet of the ACCC's importance.

Please, Mr Samuel, keep your nerve.]]>
Mo. Family Awarded $20M In Tobacco Suit http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/mo-family-awarded-20m-in-tobacco-suit Thu, 03 Feb 2005 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/mo-family-awarded-20m-in-tobacco-suit
The Jackson County jury awarded the family of Barbara Smith the punitive damages Wednesday.

Brown & Williamson officials called the damages "grossly excessive" and asked the judge to set aside the judgment.

Smith smoked Kool cigarettes for nearly 50 years before quitting in 1990. She died 10 years later of a heart attack at age 73. She had heart and lung disease.

In October, a Los Angeles jury ruled that Philip Morris USA should pay $28 billion to a 45-year smoker with lung cancer. A judge later slashed the award to $28 million.

The previous record for a verdict won by an individual against a tobacco company was $3 billion, awarded in June 2001. A California judge later reduced that to $100 million.
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First Individual Award Against Big Tobacco In Arkansas Is Upheld http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/first-individual-award-against-big-tobacco-in-arkansas-is-upheld Sat, 08 Jan 2005 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/first-individual-award-against-big-tobacco-in-arkansas-is-upheld
Henry Boerner, 74, said he and his family were "tickled to death" that a three-judge panel from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upheld the May 2003 verdict against Louisville, Ky.-based Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., even though the higher court reduced the award from $19 million to $9 million.

"Obviously, I'm in pretty good shape for a rainy day," said Boerner, whose first wife, Mary Jane Boerner, died of smoking related illnesses in 1999 at age 69.

Jurors in the U.S. District Court case in Little Rock ruled that the company's predecessor, American Tobacco Co., defectively designed its Pall Mall cigarettes and failed to warn smokers about the dangers of cigarettes before 1969.

In the first trial, the jury awarded Mary Jane Boerner's survivors $4 million in compensatory damages and $15 million in punitive damages. The punitive portion was reduced to $5 million by the appeals court panel.

The 8th Circuit court opinion states that the evidence showed American Tobacco knew the link between smoking and cancer, but still manufactured Pall Malls with excessively high levels of carcinogenic tar and without effective filters for the Arkansas smokers.

The opinion also says American Tobacco claimed smoking didn't cause cancer and actively tried to suppress research into the matter.

Henry and Mary Jane Boerner were married for 49 years. They filed the case against the tobacco company a year before she died, and Henry Boerner amended it in 1999 to include a wrongful death claim.

The case was initially dismissed by District Judge James Moody in Little Rock, but the 8th Circuit reinstated it.]]>
Light Cigarettes Consumers Lawsuits Misleading Advertising, Inappropriately Marketed, Marlboro Lights, Camel Lights, Kool Lights, Merit Lights, Winston Lights, No Lower Nicotine Level http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/light_cigarettes Sat, 08 Jan 2005 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/light_cigarettes Light Cigarettes Consumer Lawsuits

Light Cigarettes | Lawsuits, Lawyers | Misleading Advertising, Inappropriately Marketed, Marlboro Lights, Camel Lights, Kool Lights, Merit Lights, Winston Lights, No Lower Nicotine Level

Stamped Complaint against Phillip Morris U.S.A., Inc. 12/17/08

Stamped Civil Cover against Phillip Morris U.S.A., Inc. 12/17/08

Stamped Summons against Phillip Morris U.S.A., Inc. 12/17/08

Millions of Americans smoke "low-tar," "mild," or "light" cigarettes, believing those cigarettes to be less harmful than other cigarettes. Many of these cigarettes very falsely marketed as "safe" or "harmless". However, new evidence shows that these so called "safe" cigarettes are just as dangerous as regular cigarettes. In a study by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) titled Risks Associated with Smoking Cigarettes with Low Machine-Measured Yields of Tar and Nicotine*, national scientific experts conclude that evidence does not indicate a benefit to public health from changes in cigarette design and manufacturing over the last 50 years.

"This report was made possible by the work and cooperation of scientists throughout the country," said Scott Leischow, Ph.D., chief of the NCI Tobacco Control Research Branch. "The monograph clearly demonstrates that people who switch to low-tar or light cigarettes from regular cigarettes are likely to inhale the same amount of cancer-causing toxins and they remain at high risk for developing smoking-related cancers and other diseases." This monograph is the 13th volume in NCI's Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph Series, which began in 1991.

The study describes several reasons why the levels of tar and nicotine measured by the FTC method do not reflect actual tar and nicotine delivery to the smoker. The filters in low-tar/low-nicotine cigarettes often include vent holes which, when open, allow air to enter and dilute the smoke. However, many smokers cover these holes with their lips and fingers. In contrast, when tested by a machine, the holes are unobstructed, and artificially low measurements of tar and nicotine are obtained.

Additionally, smokers who switch to light cigarettes from regular cigarettes "compensate" for the lower nicotine level by inhaling more deeply; taking larger, more rapid, or more frequent puffs; or by increasing the number of cigarettes smoked per day. As a result, smokers cancel out any potential benefit of smoking a "low-tar" cigarette.

The following brands of light cigarettes have all been inappropriately marketed:

  • Marlboro Lights
  • Camel Lights
  • Kool Lights
  • Merit Lights
  • Winston Lights
  • Salem Lights
  • Newport Lights
  • Now
  • Vantage
  • Carlton
  • Misty Lights
  • Capri Lights
  • Cambridge Lights
  • GPC Lights
  • Doral Lights
  • Virginia Slims Lights
  • Benson & Hedges Lights
  • Parliament Lights
  • Kent III Lights
  • Luck Strikes Lights
  • True Lights

Legal Help For Victims Affected By Light Cigarettes

If you have been diagnosed with an illness associated with smoking light "safe" cigarettes, please fill out the form at the right for a free case evaluation by a qualified attorney or call us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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