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US court ruling finds tobacco industry guilty of racketeering

Friday 18 August, 2006

The US tobacco industry spent decades conspiring to deceive the public regarding the health consequences of smoking, according to a ruling by a US federal judge in a case brought by the United States Department of Justice.

In her ruling Judge Gladys Kessler said, "over the course of more than 50 years, defendants lied, misrepresented and deceived the American public, including smokers and the young people they avidly sought as replacement smokers, about the devastating health effects of smoking and environmental tobacco smoke."

The VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control, based at The Cancer Council Victoria, said the ruling was further confirmation of the appalling wrongdoing of the international tobacco industry, dating back to the 1950s.

The VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control's Director of Law and Regulation, Mr Jonathan Liberman, said that, unlike in the US, the Australian Government has never moved to have the tobacco industry taken to court and held accountable for its actions.

In 2004 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) told a Senate Committee that it did not have the resources to investigate the wide range of allegations that had been made about the behaviour of the tobacco industry.

"The failure to investigate the conduct of the tobacco industry in Australia has meant that it has so far avoided any responsibility for the same kind of behaviour that has led to the finding of racketeering in the US."

"The Australian Government should resource the ACCC to fully investigate the behaviour of the Australian tobacco industry to hold it accountable for its behaviour."

"The tobacco industry's behaviour has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, and cost the taxpayer millions and millions of dollars in health care expenditure."

ends

Edwina Vellar,
Media Manager
ph: (03) 9635 5400
mob: 0417 303 811
email:
Edwina.Vellar@cancervic.org.au

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