Altria to Appeal Court Order on Cigarette Ads, Packaging

U.S. tobacco companies including Altria Group Inc.’s Philip Morris USA said they will appeal a judge’s ruling ordering them to publish warnings with their products, in advertisements and on their websites saying they lied to the public about the health hazards of smoking.

The cigarette makers, in a filing today in Washington, said they will ask a federal appeals court to overturn U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler’s order on the text of the so-called corrective statements proposed by the Justice Department. According her ruling, one states: “Tobacco companies intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive.” Another says: “All cigarettes cause cancer, lung disease, heart attacks, and premature death.”

The statements stem from the government’s 1999 case against the tobacco industry. In 2006, Kessler found the defendants, also including Reynolds American Inc.’s R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Lorillard Inc.’s Lorillard Tobacco, violated anti-racketeering law by conspiring to hide cigarettes’ risks.

Kessler previously ordered the companies to stop marketing cigarettes as “light” and “low-tar” and to make statements about the health effects of smoking in newspapers and magazines and on materials attached to cigarette packages.

Charles Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, declined to immediately comment on today’s filing.

The case is U.S. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., 99-cv-02496, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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