Are you being conned by the 'low tar' label?
If you - like the editor of malehealth - used to smoke 'light' cigarettes in the mistaken belief that they were less harmful than the real McCoy, you may be wishing you lived in the USA where big tobacco is in the dock once again with smokers of so-called 'low-tar' fags claiming they were conned.
The latest federal lawsuit accuses tobacco companies of violating racketeering laws and defrauding customers into thinking 'light' cigarettes were safer than regular smokes. US smokers spent as much as $200 billion buying 'light' cigarettes under the false belief they were safer, an attorney has argued.
The smokers are asking US Senior District Judge Jack Weinstein to declare the case a 'class' action, which would mean smokers could sue in one large group that, if successful, could receive billions of dollars in damages. Michael Hausfeld, attorney for the smokers, said the industry tried to shift smokers to 'lights' years ago as concerns about the dangers of smoking mounted and sales declined.
'By engaging in the deception, defendants dramatically increased their sales of 'low tar/light' cigarettes, assuaged the fears of smokers about the health risks of smoking and sustained corporate revenues in the face of mounting evidence about the health dangers of smoking,' Hausfeld said.
It is argued that if smokers had known that 'light' cigarettes were not safer, the makers would have had to price them far more cheaply. He estimated that tobacco companies reaped between $120 billion to $200 billion in extra sales due to the deception.
So-called 'light' cigarette cases have been brought in individual states, with Philip Morris USA being the primary target. The company has won important decisions in some of the cases, including one late last year by the Illinois Supreme Court that threw out a $10.1 billion verdict against the company.
Switching to lower tar cigarettes is of little benefit as smokers tend to simply inhale more deeply or cover up the filter holes with their fingers to get the same hit. As a result some highly dangerous forms of lung cancer actually appear to be higher in smokers of low tar cigarettes.
Page created on September 18th, 2006
Page updated on December 1st, 2009