In lawsuit against Big Tobacco, companies criticize the federal judge handling the case

MarketsAssociated Press

Tobacco companies say they are being forced by a federal judge to inaccurately call themselves unscrupulous villains who continue to deceive the American public.

In an appeals court filing Wednesday, the industry says the statements ordered by the judge in a government lawsuit would only trigger public anger against the companies and should be scrapped.

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U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the nation's largest cigarette makers to publicly admit they had lied for decades about the dangers of smoking, and to publicize a federal court's conclusion that Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Philip Morris USA deliberately deceived the public.

The companies say the statement is overbroad and misleading. Arguments in the case will be heard on Feb. 23.