- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A federal appeals court blocked a landmark judgment against the tobacco industry yesterday, clearing the way for the companies to continue selling “light” and “low tar” cigarettes until their appeals can be heard.

The decision by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit also allows the companies to continue for now the advertising campaigns that a federal judge in August ruled were misleading.

Without comment, the appeals court granted the tobacco companies’ request to put Judge Gladys Kessler’s order on hold. The companies have argued that her far-reaching ruling could cost them millions of dollars and lead to a loss of customers.

In mid-August, Judge Kessler ruled that the companies had violated racketeering laws and conspired for decades to mislead the public about the health hazards of smoking.

The judge ordered the companies to publish in newspapers and on their Web sites “corrective statements” on the adverse health effects and addictiveness of smoking and nicotine.

She also ordered tobacco companies to stop labeling cigarettes as “low tar,” “light,” “ultra light” or “mild,” because such cigarettes have been found to be no safer than others because of how people smoke them.

William V. Corr, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the stay was not surprising.

“Judge Kessler’s finding was that these companies have lied to the American people for 50 years,” Mr. Corr said. “We’re confident that … the government’s case will be vindicated .”

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