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Tobacco ruling prompts renewed calls for legislation

[JURIST] US Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) [official website] said Friday that Congress should write into law some of the remedies that US District Judge Gladys Kessler imposed on the tobacco industry [JURIST news archive] after finding that tobacco companies conspired to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking. Kessler ruled Thursday that the tobacco industry is liable for civil racketeering charges [JURIST report; DOJ case materials] filed against the industry by the US Department of Justice in 1999, and ordered tobacco companies [PDF text] to publish "corrective statements" concerning the dangers of smoking and affix those statements to cigarette packaging.

Philip Morris [corporate website] has announced plans to appeal the ruling [press release], and several other tobacco companies are also considering appeals. Lautenberg said that Congress should pass legislation incorporating the remedies imposed in case Kessler's ruling is overturned on appeal. Meanwhile, US Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) [official website] and public health advocates are calling for the passage of legislation that would allow the Food and Drug Administration [official website] to regulate the tobacco industry. Opponents say that the industry is already subject to strict marketing restrictions and that additional federal oversight is unnecessary. AP has more.

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