US government opens racketeering case against tobacco industry

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 23 September 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:701
  1. Anne Harding
  1. New Jersey

    The US government's civil racketeering case against the tobacco industry, originally filed under the Clinton administration, finally went to trial on Tuesday in the District Court of Washington, DC.

    Dr David Kessler, the former chief of the Food and Drug Administration, will be the government's first witness.

    Under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a law passed in 1970 to prosecute organised crime, the Department of Justice is charging tobacco companies with conspiring to conceal the health risks and addictive powers of cigarettes. The government is seeking the “disgorgement” of $280bn (£156bn; € 230bn) that it says the industry earned by selling …

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