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Statement by American Legacy Foundation(R): Findings of Decades of Massive Fraud by Tobacco Industry Upheld in U.S. Court of Appeals
Date:5/22/2009

WASHINGTON, May 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Legacy Foundation(R) applauds today's unanimous decision in U.S. v. Philip Morris, et, al. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the U.S. District Court's findings that the tobacco industry engaged in a pattern of widespread fraud and deception with deadly health effects for the American public - for a period of more than 50 years.

In referring to the lower court decision, the three judge panel found "the [lower] court had before it sufficient evidence from which to conclude that Defendants' executives, who directed the activities for the Defendant corporations and their joint entities, knew about the negative health consequences of smoking, the addictiveness and manipulation of nicotine, the harmfulness of secondhand smoke, and the concept of smoker compensation, which makes light cigarettes no less harmful that regular cigarettes and possibly more."

The ruling continued: "The Government presented evidence indicating that specific high-ranking corporate officials were directly informed about these matters, as well as evidence of pervasive knowledge and acceptance of these propositions throughout the Defendant organizations," a reference to specific tobacco companies and entities named in the lawsuit.

This decision overwhelmingly affirms findings of liability and remedies by the lower court - findings that are especially damning for the tobacco industry. However, we regret that the Court upheld the lower court decision that the remedies available under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) were limited and cannot be forward looking. The Foundation hopes that the Department of Justice will continue its strong advocacy on behalf of the victims of this massive fraud, as well as future victims of tobacco addiction and disease.

As this case moves forward, possibly to the Supreme Court, the Foundation supports both the government and our public health colleagues who argued for the efficacy and long-term health benefits derived from funding effective counter marketing programs to address youth smoking prevention and adult smoking cessation. These advocates intervened on behalf of the American public to assert that these remedies could save countless lives by funding effective programs to keep teens from starting to smoke, limit the effects of secondhand smoke and provide critical tools to help tobacco-addicted adults quit.

"With this decision, decades of deceptive marketing practices leading to massive disease and death have finally come home to roost for the tobacco industry," said American Legacy Foundation(R) President & CEO Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH. "More than 400,000 Americans lose their lives to tobacco-related diseases each year."

Healton, who testified in the lower court proceedings, added that "research has consistently shown that for every dollar spent on prevention and cessation programs, lives are saved." Multiple peer-reviewed studies over the past several years have established that the Foundation's truth(R) youth smoking prevention campaign has been effective in keeping teens from smoking. One recent study released in February 2009 found that the campaign - the only national campaign not directed by the tobacco industry - was directly responsible for keeping 450,000 teens from starting to smoke during its first four years. In addition, a separate study found that the campaign not only paid for itself in its first two years, but also saved between $1.9 billion and $5.4 billion in medical care costs to society. Both the Department of Justice and public health advocates had argued during the case that funding for the truth(R) campaign and other proven-effective prevention and cessation programs should be included as part of remedies.

The American Legacy Foundation(R) is dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation develops programs that address the health effects of tobacco use, especially among vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco, through grants, technical assistance and training, partnerships, youth activism, and counter-marketing and grassroots marketing campaigns. The foundation's programs include truth(R), a national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as contributing to significant declines in youth smoking; EX(R), an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use; and a nationally-renowned program of outreach to priority populations. The American Legacy Foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. Visit www.americanlegacy.org.

The American Legacy Foundation(R) is equipped with a VideoLink ReadyCam(TM) television studio system, providing you with faster, easier access to the nation's leading tobacco prevention and cessation experts. From this in-house broadcast studio, Legacy can offer immediate access to its experts to comment on breaking news, new research publications, or any news related to youth smoking prevention, adult quit smoking programs, or any issue related to smoking. The studio is connected directly to the Vyvx fiber network and is always available for live or pre-taped interviews. To arrange an interview using the ReadyCam, please contact Julia Cartwright at 202-454-5596.


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SOURCE American Legacy Foundation
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