Yesterday, a federal judge ruled that tobacco companies will have to pay for an advertising campaign admitting that they lied for years about the health impacts of cigarettes.
[U.S. District Judge Gladys] Kessler's ruling on Tuesday, which the companies could try to appeal, aims to finalize the wording of five different statements the companies will be required to use.
One of them begins: "A federal court has ruled that the defendant tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public by falsely selling and advertising low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes."
Another statement includes the wording: "Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day."
The effect on consumers will be modest: Anyone who doesn't yet realize that the tobacco industry spent years obfuscating its role in damaging public health is probably not a terribly productive member of society. But the case is notable both for holding the companies accountable -- a very good thing -- and for establishing precedent. In case, you know, other industries that wantonly damage public health lie about the effects of their products.