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LCA Hails US Court of Appeals Decision to Affirm Lower Court Ruling Tobacco Companies Guilty of Massive Fraud and Deception
Date:5/26/2009

WASHINGTON, May 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) hailed the US Court of Appeals' decision on Friday upholding the 2006 ruling that found tobacco companies guilty of fraud and lying about the dangers and addictiveness of smoking.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081016/LCALOGO)

The unanimous ruling by the three judge panel upholds a 2006 federal court conviction of fraud and racketeering against nine cigarette manufacturers and two industry trade organizations. The ruling found these companies engaged in a 50-year massive racketeering scheme that included falsely denying the adverse health effects of their products, falsely denying that nicotine is addictive, falsely representing that "light" and "low-tar" cigarettes present fewer health risks, falsely denying that they marketed to kids, and falsely denying that secondhand smoke causes diseases.

The tobacco companies now face further marketing restrictions, cannot use the deceptive words "light" and "low tar" and will be required to purchase TV and newspaper ads that explain the health dangers and addictiveness of their products.

"This is an extremely important victory," said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, LCA President & CEO, "as it draws the brightest line on those who have committed decades of massive fraud and deception upon the American public. For the lung cancer community -- this is not just long overdue -- but life saving."

Fenton Ambrose continued, "But I must add that as important as this ruling is -- I am disappointed that it did not allow for additional remedies called for by LCA and other public health groups to help victims of the fraudulent practices of the tobacco companies."

During the original federal lawsuit launched in 1999, LCA filed a 67 page brief in 2005 seeking an additional $130 billion penalty to fund independent lung cancer research to advance screening and treatment options for victims addicted by tobacco. LCA also joined in separate briefs with other public health interest groups to secure additional remedies involving counter marketing campaigns and smoking cessation programs paid for by the tobacco companies. However, in her 2006 decision, US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler said that a previous Appeals Court decision did not allow her to assess retrospective penalties.

LCA joined in a subsequent amicus brief urging the appeals court to reconsider. That was denied in Friday's ruling.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. About a third of new lung cases are current smokers. Another 50% are former smokers, many of whom quit decades ago, and 10 to 15% of patients have never smoked. Two thirds of the non-smokers with lung cancer are women. The decades long marketing practices of tobacco have had a direct impact on low levels of federal research funding for lung cancer. The intent of the amicus brief was to make up for this short-fall.

"Even though the Court ruling is disappointing on this front," continued Fenton Ambrose, we can take heart that the courts clearly recognize the highly addictive nature of nicotine, the deliberate collusion over the past fifty years by the tobacco companies to manipulate the amount of nicotine and their marketing strategies to addict more what they blandly referred to as 'replacement smokers' for those who died."

"If the courts recognize this, hopefully our public health policy makers will begin to understand that smoking is an addiction, that no one chooses to have lung cancer and that lung cancer, as the biggest single cancer killer, must be given priority in research funding," she said.

Lung Cancer Alliance (www.LungCancerAlliance.org) is the only national non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to patient support and advocacy for those living with or at risk for lung cancer. Lung Cancer Alliance is committed to leading the movement to reverse decades of stigma and neglect by empowering those with or at risk for the disease, elevating awareness and changing health policy.

    CONTACT:
    Kay Cofrancesco
    202-463-2080
    kay@lungcanceralliance.org


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SOURCE Lung Cancer Alliance
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