California's First District Court of Appeals ruled unanimously to uphold a $2.85 million damage award against Philip Morris (PM) and R.J. Reynolds (RJR) in the case of Leslie Whiteley, a deceased woman from Ojai, California, who developed terminal, metastatic lung cancer at age 40. Whiteley had testified that she started smoking at age 13, using her lunch money to buy cigarettes, and that as a youth she disregarded the health warning labels on cigarette packs because tobacco companies promoted the benefits of smoking and the government allowed their sale. The tobacco companies argued that they weren't responsible for statements made by their trade group, the Tobacco Institute, during the 1970s and 1980s that scientific research was inconclusive about the dangers of smoking. The Court said that Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds were among the tobacco companies that founded and bankrolled pro-industry research groups like the Council for Tobacco Research that performed purportedly "independent research." Presiding Justice J. Anthony Kline pointed out that the companies "never publicly contradicted any of the false or misleading statements made by these entities," and that RJR and PM "engaged in a campaign of deception ... intended, among other things, to provide a psychological crutch' to keep addicted smokers smoking."
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