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Smokers Can Sue Tobacco Companies For "Light" Cigarettes

Smokers Can Sue Tobacco Companies For "Light" Cigarettes

The Supreme Court declined to go light on tobacco industry today, ruling 5-4 that plaintiffs can sue the companies for deceptively advertising "light" cigarettes. While the court did not decide whether tobacco companies did anything wrong, today's decision means that smokers have a chance to prove that by using the terms "light" and "lowered tar" the companies violated a Maine state law against fraudulent advertising.

The tobacco companies unsuccessfully argued that federal cigarette-labeling laws, which bar additional state regulation “based on smoking and health,” preempted the Maine fraud statute.

The National Cancer Institute says that although light cigarettes feel smoother and lighter on the throat and chest, they are not healthier than regular cigarettes. Also, light cigarettes make up about 80 percent of the US cigarette market. Do you think this is a valid lawsuit?

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kastarte2 kastarte2 8 years
They all look fake to me, too, Foxie.
foxie foxie 8 years
I honestly can't remember. Might have been? Maybe it was in a magazine I read? But yes, that was false advertising. I don't understand though, they still all look like falsies to me.
kastarte2 kastarte2 8 years
"I read that a cosmetics company was called out for using falsies in a mascara commercial and aren't allowed to do that anymore." Was that a Bella story? I think I remember reading that too. But they were called out for false advertising, right?
stephley stephley 8 years
Only if they advertised that they would.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
The light cigarettes I'm smoking aren't helping me lose weight. Can I sue for that?
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Double agreed, Amy. And I love SCOTUS stories! Keep 'em comin'.
foxie foxie 8 years
"Does anybody really think that SJP and Beyonce are applying Loreal hair color by themselves in their bathrooms? The girl in the Maybeline ads? Are her lashes really that big or are they falsies?" I read about this recently. You're right about hair color. They HAVE to use the hair coloring product they advertise, but it's applied professionally of course. However, I read that a cosmetics company was called out for using falsies in a mascara commercial and aren't allowed to do that anymore.
kranky kranky 8 years
steph- As always, thanks for bringing new information to the table. I was countering the claim that tobacco additives made cigarettes more addictive. "Our findings indicated that more than 100 of 599 documented cigarette additives have pharmacological actions that camouflage the odor of environmental tobacco smoke emitted from cigarettes, enhance or maintain nicotine delivery, COULD increase the addictiveness of cigarettes, and mask symptoms and illnesses associated with smoking behaviors." [capitalization added] That is the only part of what you posted that stated anything about additives making cigarettes more addictive, and it is by no means conclusive. "Our results provide a clear rationale for regulatory control of tobacco additives." Exactly, which is why the tobacco settlements have had a really, really bad consequence of encouraging the production of cigarettes that are not regulated. On another, completely random note: any ideas on why the name Rabinoff looks familiar? Has there been a Rabinoff in the news reacently? I Googled it, and did not see anything noteworthy.
stephley stephley 8 years
"Stephley brough up additives - that's patently wrong" I don't think 'patently wrong' means what you think it means. From the Surgeon General: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/sgr_2000/highlights/highlight_tobacco.htm Cigarette Additives Federal law (the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act of 1984 and the Comprehensive Smokeless Tobacco Health Education Act of 1986) requires cigarette and smokeless tobacco manufacturers to submit a list of ingredients added to tobacco to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Hundreds of ingredients are used in the manufacture of tobacco products. Additives make cigarettes more acceptable to the consumer—they make cigarettes milder and easier to inhale, improve taste, and prolong burning and shelf life. In 1994, six major cigarette manufacturers reported 599 ingredients that were added to the tobacco of manufacture cigarettes. Although, these ingredients are regarded as safe when ingested in foods, some may form carcinogens when heated or burned. Knowledge about the impact of additives in tobacco products is negligible and will remain so as long as brand-specific information on the identity and quantity of additives is unavailable. Smokeless Additives -- (chewing tobacco) In 1994, 10 manufacturers of smokeless tobacco products released a list of additives used in their products. The additives list contained 562 ingredients approved for foods by the FDA. Moist snuff products with low nicotine content and pH levels have a smaller proportion of free nicotine. In contrast, moist snuff products with high nicotine content and pH levels have a higher proportion of free nicotine. The epidemiology of moist snuff use among teenagers and young adults indicates that most novices start with brands having low levels of free nicotine and then "graduate" to brands with higher levels. Sweeteners and flavorings, such as cherry juice concentrate, apple juice, chocolate liqueur, or honey are used in various smokeless tobacco products. As with manufactured cigarettes, these additives increase palatability and may increase the use of smokeless tobacco, at least among novices. From the American Journal of Public Health GOVERNMENT, POLITICS, AND LAW Pharmacological and Chemical Effects of Cigarette Additives Michael Rabinoff, DO, PhD, Nicholas Caskey, PhD, Anthony Rissling, MA and Candice Park, BS Michael Rabinoff is with the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles. Nicholas Caskey is with the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles HealthCare System, Los Angeles. Anthony Rissling is with the Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Candice Park is with the Department of Education, School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles. Correspondence: Requests for reprints should be sent to Michael Rabinoff, DO, PhD, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, 300 Medical Plaza, Suite 2251, Los Angeles, CA 90095-6968 (e-mail: mrabinoff@mednet.ucla.edu). We investigated tobacco industry documents and other sources for evidence of possible pharmacological and chemical effects of tobacco additives. Our findings indicated that more than 100 of 599 documented cigarette additives have pharmacological actions that camouflage the odor of environmental tobacco smoke emitted from cigarettes, enhance or maintain nicotine delivery, could increase the addictiveness of cigarettes, and mask symptoms and illnesses associated with smoking behaviors. Whether such uses were specifically intended for these agents is unknown. Our results provide a clear rationale for regulatory control of tobacco additives.
MandeeLei MandeeLei 8 years
It's obvious that the constant lawsuits are trying to tear down the tobacco industry all together. This is definitely focused around "false advertising" but what is the solution? The tobacco industry should have the right to produce the product as the consumers still want to pay for it. How many more warnings do we have to put on the boxes until it is considered fair advertising?? I know their are people out there that think that Light cigarettes are not as harmful but there are people out there that think a lot of stupid things! They think taking a diet pill will magically transform them even though they all say that results aren't typical. I think that there has been plenty of information out there about cigarettes and those that want the truth will find it [and very easily might I add as the big name companies have the warning on the packs.] Turning a blind eye to the issue here is what people are doing and what they have always done. I do agree that corporations have a responsibility to it's consumers to be honest and up front but I feel that cigarette companies have met that responsibility and been very clear about the product that they provide [at least in recent years.] Just my opinion.
kastarte2 kastarte2 8 years
I think consumers do take it for granted that companies lie in advertisements. Does anybody really think that SJP and Beyonce are applying Loreal hair color by themselves in their bathrooms? The girl in the Maybeline ads? Are her lashes really that big or are they falsies? I believe in personal responsibility. Obviously smoking any kind of cigarettes makes you at risk for cancer and other maladies. But I do think companies need to be more honest in their advertisements and Mich is right, it would be a long process. If they can't be 100% honest, than consumers should absolutely be able to sue them but it seems to me that suing tobacco over light cigs is just kind of frivolous. There is no excuse for anybody in this day in age with all the information available from so many sources to not know that "Light" cigarettes are just as bad for you. I do think that people who would take this issue to court probably fall under the category of "greedy" rather than "concerned consumer."
amybdk amybdk 8 years
I'm saying either don't excuse corporations either, or accept a level playing field where corporations lie about their products and people sue them. Agreed.
kranky kranky 8 years
Unfortunately, I missed the bulk of this conversation, but as the stepdaughter of someone who works in the tobacco industry, I HAVE to put my two cents in... First - there is ALOT of misinformation running around about the manufacturing of cigarettes. Stephley brough up additives - that's patently wrong. Tobacco companies use tobacco leave dust to create dyes that they spray back onto cigarettes. Adding that microscopic amount of tobacco back into a tobacco rpoduct does not make the cigarette any more addictive than it already is. Second - Stephley brought up a great point that the lawsuits are really designed to put the companies out of business. That is 100% true. Suing the tobacco companies has become trendy and vogue to the point of ridiculousness. They have complied with all mandates from the courts, and are STILL being sued out the wazoo. I'm not going to debate steph's comments about evil corporations, but I will say this - those corporations are actually much better at protecting consumer interests than what is happening now. Because the tobacco industry has taken such a beating and the cost of cigarettes has risen, cigarette cottage industries are popping up all over the South to fill the void for tobacco farmers and consumers. The Mom and Pop operations are small enough that they do not fall under federal regulations at all. Which means they do not have standards for WHAT they put in their cigarettes (they can add ANYTHING), how much they charge, how they label them (ie: no health warnings), etc... So basically, that road was paved with good intentions, but as long as PEOPLE chose to smoke, then the market will provide a product. I would prefer to know that people are using a tobacco product that is regulated and properly labeled.
NDiva NDiva 8 years
This kind of false advertising has been going on for years. Smokers know that are putting their lives at risk. Smokers know that the advertisers will do and say anything to make a sale. Maybe it's the American dream... To lie and be lied to.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
>Sounds like the issue is false advertising Agreed. I know a scary number of people who think light cigarettes are less harmful than regular.
Meike Meike 8 years
If you smoke, you pay with your health, regardless of the cigarettes being light or not. Heh. This is just another case of wasted tax money.
stephley stephley 8 years
There are a lot of frivolous lawsuits, but the courts are NOT swamped with them the way some would have us believe. I've worked for a litigation attorney and I know how much it costs, and how, with or without a lawyer, quickly each pleading adds up. It's nothing for a bigger business, not even a giant corporation, to deplete an individual by just overwhelming them with paper, long before the real merits of the case can catch a judge's attention.
Myst Myst 8 years
Steph, if you review some court cases, you'd see that there's lot of frivolous lawsuits in the states. And it's not that expensive to file a lawsuit. The depending on your state and county the average cost to file a lawsuit can range between $150-300 on your own. If you want to go and get a lawyer then of course your cost is going to go up. McDonalds, Burger King, and a lot of companies have been sued by people for frivolous reasons. If a person has just reason to sue a company that by all means, do so, but if you make a decision with a clear mind and is fully aware of the consequences, you can not blame people for your actions.
stephley stephley 8 years
But again Myst, I'm not defending stupid people, but there are plenty of them and we're not allowed to label them and treat them differently. People aren't going to start suing for just any reason - it's costly just to file a suit, and corporations can lock individuals into paper fights that break the individual long before the suit gone anywhere. Businesses sue each other more often than individuals sue businesses. The myth of the frivolous lawsuit lives on, but it is a myth.
stephley stephley 8 years
Please God, may I be independently wealthy and asleep on some warm island by then! I share the office with a couple of corporate attorneys - odd situation for me.
Myst Myst 8 years
Ok, Steph, so should people sue, companies that makes knives because they cut their fingers off while cooking by saying, they didn't know that the knife was sharp enough to cut their fingers off? No. If a company clearly lies and mislead people into buying their products, then sue them to your heart content, but people shouldn't sue companies after they purchase their products, knowing full well of all of the risks involved. The fact that judges are allowing lawsuits such as these to be held, is basically opening Pandora's box. Pretty soon, people are going to sue just about anyone for any reason.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Steph, I'm not a law student yet, still undergrad. But law school is the plan. Maybe in a few years I'll be able to add more to the discussion of corporate law.
stephley stephley 8 years
Myst, that's for a jury to decide. Mich, people study and argue corporate law for their entire careers- tossing out snippets wouldn't help here. But while a corporation is an entity with legal standing similar to an individual person, it can divide itself into many little entities so that determining which is actually responsible for any given action is difficult - cops can't just walk in and cite a corporation for a crime like dumping toxic waste into a stream. Thus, lawsuits. (Totally aside: Mich, are you a law student, I thought you were)
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 8 years
Well, I think there are two sides that are very valid. Yes, these companies have withheld information and made it seem more "healthy" by saying light cigarettes. However, any consumer who smokes "light" because they are under the impression that it is healthy is plain ignorant about their health.
Myst Myst 8 years
Yes Steph, however in this case, Philip Morris isn't lying about their products. That's why this whole thing is pointless and frivolous. All you need to do is look at the label and research it is. Malboro Light just have a lower level of nicotine and tar. It's not any less toxic or harmful than regular Malboros and people who smokes knows that. So don't go back 20 years down the line when your lungs are completely black and you have cancer, come back and say, I didn't know that I could get cancer from this smoking cigarettes for 20 odd years.
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