A Special Message from Board Member Sharon Eubanks
As the lead litigator for the government in its case against the tobacco industry, this story sounds all too familiar: In the face of a drastic increase in youth e-cigarette use (“vaping”) as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on February 11, 2019, the tobacco industry and its well-heeled coalition of support groups has criticized the FDA for waging an “aggressive regulatory assault” on e-cigarettes. Altria, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Philip Morris, pledged to work “with all interested parties” to address the “problem.” There is no reason to believe they intend to help minimize the market for their product or to agree to meaningful regulatory efforts.
In her opinion, Judge Gladys Kessler found that “Over the course of more than 50 years, Defendants lied, misrepresented and deceived the American public,” And further, “there is a likelihood of present and future violations of RICO.” She added, “The evidence in this case clearly establishes that Defendants have not ceased engaging in unlawful activity.”
To be clear, the tobacco industry and now vaping industry proponents have largely had their way with regulatory efforts. The FDA has not taken any action to curb youth vaping. Indeed, the government has not done anything about e-cigarettes epidemic use by minors, even though it has the power to remove e-cigarettes from the market entirely, pending a rigorous pre-market review.
These facts notwithstanding, we, the people who breathe, are not powerless. We must continue to advocate for smokefree indoor air laws so that we all may breathe freely. It’s that simple.
Together, we can clear the air and beat back Big Tobacco.
In good health,
—Sharon Eubanks, JD
Vice Chair, Board of Directors, ANR Foundation
ANR has been shining the light on tobacco industry interference since the beginning of the smokefree movement. ANR/ANR Foundation Board member, Sharon Eubanks, was there at ground zero as lead counsel on behalf of the United States in the largest civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) enforcement action ever filed: United States v. Philip Morris USA, et al., the federal tobacco litigation.
Following a nine-month trial, the federal district court found that the major U.S. cigarette companies violated the civil provisions of RICO and committed fraud on a massive scale. They were ordered to change the way they do business, particularly in marketing and advertising, and the decision was affirmed upon appeal to the D.C. Circuit.