State Attorneys General Warn R.J. Reynolds Tobacco About Potential Lawsuit Over Cigarette Safety Claims
The National Association of Attorneys General sent a letter informing R.J. Reynolds Tobacco that states might sue the cigarette maker over its claims that Eclipse brand cigarettes present fewer health risks than regular cigarettes, the AP/Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. The letter, which was dated March 28, was disclosed by R.J. Reynolds' parent company on May 9 in its quarterly filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The notice, which was signed by 40 attorneys general, alleges that the company "has engaged in unfair and deceptive acts and practices by publishing false or misleading claims" about Eclipse. The attorneys general allege that R.J. Reynolds violated the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, under which tobacco companies agreed to pay 46 states $206 billion to settle lawsuits against them and also consented to new advertising and marketing restrictions. R.J. Reynolds said Eclipse cigarettes, which primarily heat tobacco rather than burn it, create 80% less second-hand smoke than regular cigarettes.
Mark Smith, an R.J. Reynolds spokesperson, said, "Our claims are substantiated by extensive scientific testing." According to the SEC filing, NAAG and R.J. Reynolds will discuss the allegations at a meeting in early June (AP/Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 5/13).