Cochran Lawsuit Alleges Companies Targeted Kids
Attorney Johnnie Cochran yesterday filed a lawsuit against five cigarette makers, alleging that the companies violated federal racketeering laws by "conspiring to entice children to smoke," the Wall Street Journal reports. Filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the suit charges that Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, Lorillard Tobacco and Liggett targeted children with advertising that deceived them about the risks associated with smoking. Asking for class-action status on behalf of the millions of people who started smoking before age 18, Cochran is seeking to recover money underage smokers spent on cigarettes, or alternatively, tobacco companies' profits earned from cigarette sales to kids (Fairclough, Wall Street Journal, 5/24). According to the suit, "Millions of children have been moved while they were minors to purchase and smoke cigarettes and pay defendants for their harmful, addictive, misrepresented products" (McQueen, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/24). Tobacco companies "attacked" the suit, denying that cigarette advertisements had ever been targeted toward children. They pointed to the 1998 national tobacco settlement, which prohibits tobacco advertising to children (Wall Street Journal, 5/24). But Cochran said that some advertisements were especially directed toward minority children. The suit comes one day after the tobacco industry scored a victory when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit dismissed lawsuits from union health care funds and three foreign governments seeking compensation for treating smokers (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.