Resource center

Tobacco Litigation History

  • 1954 - Industry faces first liability lawsuit by lung cancer victim. The suit was dropped thirteen years later.
  • 1964 - Surgeon general releases reports concluding smoking causes lung cancer.
  • 1966 - Federally mandated warnings on cigarette packs appear.
  • 1990 - Smoking banned on interstate buses and most domestic airline flights.
  • 1992 - Supreme Court rules smokers may file suits alleging cigarette makers hid healthdangers of tobacco.
  • 1994 - Tobacco executives swear in congressional testimony that nicotine is not addictive. Later, disclosure of internal Brown & Williamson documents reveal industry knowledge of smoking risks. Mississippi becomes first state to sue torecover public costs of treating sick smokers.
  • 1996 - Liggett Group settles claims by five states and helps them go after other companies. FDA announces landmark effort to regulate tobacco.
  • 1997 - Proposed settlement of state suits calls for tough restrictions on cigarettes. Mississippi accepts $3.6 billion to settle with manufacturers; Florida, Texas and Minnesota follow.
  • 1998 - Forty-six states agree to $206 billion settlement with companies.
  • 1999 - Justice Department sues industry for billions of dollars spent on smoking related health care.
  • 2000 - Supreme Court rules, 5-4, that the FDA lacks authority to regulate tobacco. In July, a Florida jury awards $145 billion in punitive damages against the Industry.
  • 2001 - California jury awards individual $3 billion in punitive damages against.
  • 2002 – California jury awards smoker $28 billion in punitive damages.
  • 2002 – Florida jury awards flight attendant $5.5 million for exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • 2005 – New York jury awards smoker $17.1 billion in punitive damages.
  • 2006 – Florida Supreme Court overturns $145 billion award in punitive damages against Big Tobacco.
  • 2007 – California court removes legal barrier that allows injured smokers to sue tobacco companies.


Related Litigation Content