Tobacco Ruling Limits Cigarette Marketing

Tobacco companies face strict new limitations on marketing and must stop labeling cigarettes as "low tar," "light" or "natural," a federal judge ordered in a long-awaited ruling on a 1999 suit filed by the Clinton Administration. In a decision that sent tobacco stocks soaring, Judge Gladys Kessler found tobacco companies guilty of racketeering, but imposed no financial penalties. In her 1,742-page decision, Judge Kessler lambasted tobacco companies for deceiving the public by marketing and selling "their lethal product with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted." The judge rejected a government proposal that the industry be forced to underwrite a multibillion-dollar program to help smokers quit and to educate young people about tobacco's hazards, but did order the companies to begin an ad campaign on the adverse health effects of smoking. The ruling could jeopardize major brands such as Marlboro Lights and Camel Lights. Sales of light brands constitute more than 50 percent of the cigarette market. Analysts predicted that the "light" issue will be appealed. The ruling applies to Batco; Brown & Williamson; Lorillard; Philip Morris and its parent, Altria and R.J. Reynolds.
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