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ORAL 08 - Smoking Cessation, Tobacco Control and Lung Cancer (ID 94)
- Event: WCLC 2015
- Type: Oral Session
- Track: Prevention and Tobacco Control
- Presentations: 1
ORAL08.01 - The History of Tobacco Litigation in the United States (ID 795)
10:45 - 12:15 | Author(s): A. Brown
This presentation reviews the history of tobacco litigation in the United States.
Data for this study comes from industry business records available online through the UCSF Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, transcripts of court proceedings, and news and stock analyst reports on tobacco litigation.
Litigation against the tobacco industry began in 1954, corresponding to the emerging evidence linking smoking and disease. A total of 109 lawsuits were filed between 1954 and 1970, but only eight were tried and all ended in defense verdicts. Another 150 cases were filed between 1970 and 1985, but none went to trial. There was a second wave of cases filed during the mid-1980s that led to jury trials, but only one, Cipollone v. Liggett Group, was a plaintiff verdict. Cipollone was later overturned on appeal. A third wave of litigation followed in the early 1990s, with several plaintiffs’ verdicts. By 1999, juries were awarding punitive damages against the defendants. The state Attorney General cases against cigarette manufacturers resulted in the Master Settlement Agreement in 1998, which, among other things, required that the cigarette companies release millions of pages of business records. These documents have played a key role in fueling subsequent litigation and winning cases. The Engle v. Liggett Group class action verdict on behalf of injured smokers in Florida in the late 1990s helped to change the industry’s long held position that smoking was unproven as a cause of disease and that nicotine was not addictive. Decertification of the Engle class action lawsuit spawned several thousand individual lawsuits against the cigarette industry in Florida, which have resulted in dozens of verdicts favoring plaintiffs since 2009. Additional litigation against the tobacco industry continues nationwide on the “light” cigarettes fraud and on individual personal injury cases that have resulted in notable verdicts against the tobacco industry.
In the United States, litigation against the cigarette industry began in 1954 and has accelerated over the past 60 years with a growing number of verdicts favoring plaintiffs since the mid-1990s. Litigation has proven to be a powerful tool for tobacco control efforts helping to change public sentiment about the industry and its products, increasing the costs of cigarettes, and forcing the industry to accept responsibility, in front of a jury, for its deceptive practices.
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