Judicial statements now available in the Tobacco Control Playbook

Claire Anderson

A special issue on judicial statements from legal action involving the tobacco industry has now been added to the Tobacco Control Playbook. The Playbook builds a wide range of evidence-based arguments to support the advocacy of tobacco control. This special issue collects a number of the judicial statements made about the tobacco industry in litigation. It looks both at cases where the tobacco industry has brought legal challenges against governments seeking to regulate tobacco, and cases where it has defended itself in class actions initiated by people suffering from tobacco-related illness.

Many judicial statements recognize that tobacco companies have deliberately misled the public regarding the harmful and addictive nature of tobacco products, the harms of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke, and the tobacco industry’s marketing practices:
"Notwithstanding the understanding and acceptance of each Defendant that smoking and nicotine are addictive, Defendants have publicly denied and distorted the truth as to the addictive nature of their products for several decades. Defendants have publicly denied that nicotine is addictive, have suppressed research showing its addictiveness, and have repeatedly used misleading statistics as to the number of smokers who have quit voluntarily and without professional help". United States v. Philip Morris USA [2006].

Courts have in particular commented on the practice of marketing to children and young people: "The evidence is clear and convincing – and beyond any reasonable doubt – that Defendants have marketed to young people twenty-one and under while consistently, publicly, and falsely, denying they do so". United States v. Philip Morris USA [2006].

Other judicial statements about the industry’s deliberate deception of the public and their use of so-called evidence in litigation, and on the use of health reassurance on tobacco products (such as “light” or “mild” cigarettes) to convey a false impression that one tobacco product is less harmful than another, are available through the Tobacco Control Playbook link below.

What is the Tobacco Control Playbook?

The Tobacco Control Playbook, a resource created by WHO/Europe, highlights the arguments and approaches that public health leaders have developed and used to counteract and succeed against the tobacco industry. It aims to share this knowledge widely to help countries learn from each other’s experiences. It does so by offering a collection of evidence-based arguments from different thematic areas, designed to support countries in their efforts to fully implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. This living document is meant to be updated and extended with further arguments as the learning and experience of countries grows.