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Big Tobacco doesn’t want to admit wrongdoing

Companies told judge they don’t want to fess up to lying about nicotine and light cigarettes

Anyone who has ever seen “The Insider” has an opinion about how honest tobacco companies are. But still, when Big Tobacco told a federal judge that it didn’t want to admit to repeatedly lying to consumers, it wasn’t terribly shocking.

It all went down yesterday when cigarette makers Altria Group Inc. and Reynolds American Inc., among others, told U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler that they should not be required to tell the public that they manipulated nicotine levels to make cigarettes more addictive or that they lied about the negative health effects of light cigarettes.  

The companies have been battling it out with the Justice Department for the past six years over wording their “corrective statements,” which are part of the penalty associated with Kessler’s landmark 2006 decision. In that ruling, Kessler found that Big Tobacco engaged in fraud to deceive the public that went on for decades. Labels, containing these corrective statements, are slated to run in newspapers, magazines and on cigarette packages. These labels are different from the traditional warning labels on cigarette packages and the graphic labels that have also spent a fair share of time in court.

To be fair, the tobacco companies have maintained all along that they never lied to consumers—despite what Kessler concluded in her 2006 ruling.

Read more about Big Tobacco’s request to maintain its innocence on Thomson Reuters.

And if you were a fan of “The Insider,” see InsideCounsel’s slideshow, Top 10 corporate law movies, for other great lawyer flicks.

Also, check out more of our stories about the tobacco industry:

D.C. Circuit rules against graphic tobacco label requirements

NYC can’t force displays of graphic anti-smoking ads

D.C Circuit hears graphic tobacco label case

Canadian tobacco class actions head to trial

Tobacco companies pay $6.5 billion to U.S. states

Judge says Big Tobacco’s free speech rights were violated

Graphic cigarette warning labels blocked

5 tobacco companies sue FDA over ad requirements

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Cathleen Flahardy

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