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2005 "Eclipse" Litigation
On July 26, 2005, Attorney General William Sorrell sued tobacco product manufacturer R.J. Reynolds for consumer fraud and violation of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Vermont is collaborating in this matter with attorneys from other States’ AG offices and with NAAG.
The lawsuit charges that Reynolds’ advertising for its “Eclipse” brand cigarettes—claiming that smoking Eclipse cigarettes is less harmful than smoking other brands of cigarettes—violates Vermont’s consumer protection statutes, and also the Master Settlement Agreement, which prohibits the tobacco companies from making material misrepresentations regarding the health consequences of tobacco products.
The case was tried over a period of five weeks in the fall of 2009, with the Court issuing a ruling in March 2010. The Court found that R.J. Reynolds’ advertising claims of a “reduced risk” cigarette were deceptive and misleading, in violation of Vermont’s Consumer Fraud Act and the Master Settlement Agreement. Further proceedings, to determine appropriate remedies, are scheduled for the fall of 2011.
1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement and Implementation