WASHINGTON (AP) — Tobacco companies are urging a federal judge to reject the government's proposed industry-financed corrective statements, calling them "forced public confessions."
The Justice Department countered that the statements need to be strong enough to protect people from future false statements made by cigarette makers. The statements include admissions that the companies lied about the dangers of smoking.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler, who is hearing the case, has already said she wants the industry to pay for corrective statements in various types of ads. Although she has not made a decision on what the statements will say, she said at Monday's hearing that she doesn't have to take the government's proposed statements word-for-word, and will come up with "modifications."
In 2006, in a case the government brought in 1999 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, Kessler ruled that America's largest cigarette makers concealed the dangers of smoking for decades. The proposed statements by the cigarette-makers would become the remedy to ensure the companies don't repeat the violation.
In the 2006 ruling, which totaled more than 1,600 pages, Kessler wrote that the tobacco industry "survives, and profits, from selling a highly addictive product which causes diseases that lead to a staggering number of deaths per year, an immeasurable amount of human suffering and economic loss, and a profound burden on our national health care system."
The Justice Department's proposed statements would cover areas such as the addictiveness of nicotine, the lack of health benefit from "low tar," ''ultra-light" and "mild" cigarettes, and the negative health effects of second-hand smoke.
One example: "For decades, we denied that we controlled the level of nicotine delivered in cigarettes. Here's the truth: Cigarettes are a finely-tuned nicotine delivery device designed to addict people."
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