The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to hear appeals from both sides in the federal government’s racketeering lawsuit against the tobacco industry (The United States v. Philip Morris USA, Inc.)
The decision is a victory in that it upholds the trial court’s verdict that cigarette manufacturers violated federal racketeering laws, willfully deceiving the American public about the dangers of its products.
The same decision also ends the federal government’s quest to fine Big Tobacco to the tune of $280 billion in profits and $10 billion for smoking-cessation programs.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), tobacco is the most preventable cause of death in the U.S., responsible for 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of all lung cancer deaths.
Chief Executive Officer of the ACS and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), John R. Seffrin, issued this statement:
“The U.S. Supreme Court made a clear statement: Big Tobacco is guilty of knowingly and willingly deceiving the American public about the hazards of its products and engaging in egregious practices, including fraud.
“Big Tobacco has thrived for decades on the business of addiction by marketing to children and misleading adults about the harms of its deadly products, which kill nearly 440,000 people in America each year. While we are disappointed that the tobacco industry will not be forced to pay for the full damages associated with their conduct, we remain confident that progress can be made. As public health interveners in the case, we will work to ensure that the remedies ordered by Judge Kessler are fully implemented.
“It is time for Big Tobacco to finally be held accountable for its deplorable actions.”
No need for Big Tobacco to take the news so hard. Its already battered reputation took another hit, but investors don’t seem to mind. Just just after the news, WSJ Market Beat reported:
“Tobacco companies are leading the consumer staples sector higher. Reynolds American gained 5.2 percent, Altria Group rose 3.5 percent, and Lorillard gained 3.3 percent after the high court refused to revisit a case that found the tobacco industry violated federal racketeering laws, putting an end to the government’s effort to force billions in payments from the industry.”
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