September 13, 2006 12:20 pm by Gene Borio

Here in Brooklyn, at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, attorney Michael Hausfeld is fighting for the very life of his Schwab case.

The main part of the morning was taken up with Hausfeld’s attempt to prove to Judge Weinstein that the Schwab class should be certified. The class of smokers, he argued, were cheated in their expectations of a safer cigarette, and had not received the value they had thought.

Michael Hausfeld sought to show that:

The tobacco defendants Pitched the idea that lights were safe, the public believed that pitch, and the market shifted as the public, driven by health concerns, believed what the industry wanted them to believe, and bought light cigarettes as a safer alternative, Oftentimes in lieu of quitting. The market shifted as the industry intended, creating a vast market in “lights” among consumers, who otherwise would have quit “in droves.”

Hausfeld sought to avoid Defendants’ requirement to poll every smoker to see if they relied on their statements by pointing to aggregated marketing data, often from the industry itself, which seemed to accept that people went to lights for health concerns, not for taste–in fact, one industry document said that, “”Lights as a descriptor has distinct perception of . . . an expectation of low tar and nicotine delivery with an additional second expectation of reduced taste.”

Judge Weinstein said he was “troubled” by several aspects, the central one being how to quantify not only the number of smokers involved in the class–those who took up smoking lights because they believed the industry’s (mis)representations and believed them to be safer, but the specific amount of damages, what the smokers have lost. Other cigarettes cost about the same, so what did smokers lose since they paid the same anyway?

Hausfeld came at the issue from a different perspective, that smokers thought they were paying for a value they didn’t receive, ie, more safety. If they were going to not receive that value, then they would have paid less for a cigarette that didn’t taste very good–as much as 80% less, Hausfeld said.

Apparently Hausfeld was envisioning a world in which smokers didn’t think lights had any harm-reduction value at all, and in such a world, smokers certainly wouldn’t pay much for a bad-tasting cigarette, and therefore lights would occupy a bottom-rung market niche–much like the cut-rate generics do today.

I’m not sure if this got across to Judge Weinstein, who seemed politely obstreperous.

Weinstein said that the ability to reliably quantify the damages to smokers is central to whether the case goes forward or not.

Hausfeld felt that “conjoint analysis” and aggregate marketing data (since 1971) is sufficient to determine these damages.

Weinstein also was troubled by whether smokers were getting value of a sorts even by just the “illusion” of safety, as they get value from feeling like a movie star, even though they knew deep down the illusion was false.

Hausfeld’s whole point, however, is that smokers _did_ buy what the industry wanted them to buy–that lights were safer. He backed this up with numerous quotes from industry documents and Judge Kessler’s decision.


  1. Ramona Hart Says:

    I am Ramona Ellen Hart of Lansing, Michigan, I would like to know how to join the law suite against the tobacco industry. I have smoked Marlboro for over 28 years. I switched from Marlboro Reds to Marlboro Lights 15 years ago, under the advisement of my family doctors. He told me that switching to Marlboro Lights would be less harmful to my health than to smoke Marlboro Reds.

  2. Anthony Hart Says:

    I Anthony Hart of Lansing, Michigan would like to know how to join the law suite against the tobacco industry. I have been smoking for the last 25 years. I have smoked light cigarettes for the past 20 years.

  3. Deanna Shirey Says:

    I Deanna Shirey of Lansing, Michigan would like to know how to join the lawsuit against the tobacco industry. I have been a smoker for the last 20 years.

  4. Gene Borio Says:

    Wow. Judging by the responses here, and to me via email, this issue has really outraged “Lights” smokers. There has already been at least one TV station report on the reaction.


    This class action isn’t won yet. When and if it is, which would be a matter of years, there will be widespread media notifications to potential class members, allowing them an opportunity to “opt-out” of the class, thus reserving their right to pursue their own individual suit.

    In such an event, Tobacco on Trial will link to all relevant information.

    Meanwhile, individuals should just sit tight, or check with lawyers in their states about filing their own suits.

  5. Daniel L Smalls Jr Says:

    For I would like to know how to join the lawsuit against the tobacco company, for I had smoke from Newport lights to kool lights, all thinking that they were a little healtier for me

  6. Jim Hatcher Says:

    I would like to join in on the lawsuit against the tobacco giants. I smoked Marlboro in the red pack for years and switched to the light and light 100’s after seeing the ads in magazines and on TV stating that the lights were a ’safer’, more healthy cigarette.

  7. Deborah A Rule Says:

    I am trying to find out how to contact Attorney Michael D Hausfeld regarding the tobacco lawsuit. Thank You.

  8. Barbara Drucker Says:

    I would like to know how to join in the lawsuit against the tobacco companies. I have smoked Kool and lights for years.

  9. James Simon Says:

    Would like to join the tobacco suit.

  10. Jean-Michel Zalcensztajn Says:

    Would like to join lawsuit. Please contact me.
    Thank you

  11. Tony Webb Says:

    Please place me on the stand. I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Even though on EVERY pack of cigarettes there was a WARNING from the Surgon General… I truthfully believed that Marboro Lights were safer so I made the switch from Red to a big fat lie. There is little lung damage that will live with me till I die from the BIG LIE that Marboro Lights were safer.

  12. Jean Nicoll Says:

    I would like to know how to join the lawsuit. I have smoked Marlboro lights for years believing they were a safer cigarette. My dad also smoke lights and ultra lights for years because he also believed they were a safer cigarette and he died of lung cancer.

  13. Lori Fetty Says:

    October 4, 2006

    Dear Michael Hausfeld,

    We want to join the class action lawsuit against the cigarette companies. Here is our story. I have three sisters and a brother that want to join also.

    I thought maybe you could help Me. I don’t know what to do.
    Cigarettes have ruined Our lives. My Parents died seven years ago, eight days apart, from cigarette smoking. Dad was 67 and Mom was 56. Dad died March 27th and Mom died on Easter, April 4th. So, of course, Easter will never mean the same to Us again. A day before My Mom died, Our Cousin’s Husband died, of course from smoking. Then within a six months period, My Grandmother, two Great Aunts and my Uncle’s Wife, all died, of course from cigarette smoking. Not only have They suffered from Their illnesses, We, the living have suffered greatly also. No matter what They did, They couldn’t quit. They even went to the light or low tar cigarettes, thinking that They could quit or that it wouldn’t be so harmful to Them. Struggling with trying to quit and struggling with Their illnesses, is unbelievable pain. Seeing Them suffer, is unbelievable pain. Struggling with the loss of Them is unbelievable pain. The cigarette companies really don’t have a clue on how many People suffer because of them getting just one Person hooked on smoking. Not only does the smoker suffer, but all of the family, friends and coworkers suffer for years and years. Mom and Dad have tried and tried to quit for years. Mom and Dad were struggling working class people, Who loved Family and Friends. Not only will We never see Them ever again, hear Their voices ever again, have Family get togethers with Them ever again, go on Family vacations with Them ever again, but Their Grandchildren will never get to enjoy Their Grandparents……. That is PAIN!
    Now, My Husband is dying. He is 51 years old. He has been sick for the last 7 years, of course from smoking. He has COPD and other lung diseases from smoking. He has been in the emergency room many times by way of ambulance and in and out of the hospital multiple times, almost dying every time. He is on various medications but They will only help for so long. He is going to be evaluated for a lung transplant soon. We have been at or below the poverty level financially for a long time now because He can’t work. We are all stressed to the limit now. He has tried and tried to quit smoking. He went to the light cigarettes thinking it would be less harmful. He has tried the nicotine patch, nicotrol inhaler, cold turkey, cutting down, nicotine gum and He even was hypnotized. Some People can quit while Others are addicted for life and the cigarette companies know this. The cigarette companies love it that way so the addicted People will still have to buy Their products until the day They die. The cigarette companies really don’t care as long as they make that almighty dollar as a profit. My Husband was just in the hospital on June 23rd. The Doctors said His lungs are only working to the capacity of 15% and doesn’t have long to live. He recently was in the hospital on October 1st with a seizure, due to lack of oxygen in his system from smoking damage to his lungs. We have two Children who suffered with Us while all of Our Relatives died. They now are 18 and 20 years old and are having a very hard time dealing with all of this just like the rest of Us. With all the deaths in Our Family from smoking, I thank God each day that My Children have never tried smoking. One time, I even brought some of My Children’s Friends to see My Husband lying in a hospital bed in the ICU with a breathing tube stuck down His throat for days just to try to get Them not to start or to quit smoking. Now some of My Children’s Friends haven’t tried smoking and some don’t smoke anymore,(even though they just started smoking, it made Them not want to smoke) knowing that They could possibly end up there too, someday. We talk to a lot of People to try to get Them to quit smoking, with all the suffering that Our Loved Ones had suffered and the suffering We all are suffering now, We can get Some of Them to quit smoking. We all are sick of the pain that the cigarette companies have caused Us and We all want them to pay for what they have done. Is there any way You could help Us with that? I don’t know what else to do. This letter doesn’t even begin to describe all of the turmoil, suffering, sleepless nights and loss of lives due to the cigarette companies.

    Thanks for your time and consideration.

    Lori Fetty
    302 West Park Street
    Westby, WI 54667
    608-634-2205 home

  14. Alexandra Polyakov Says:

    I would like to know how to join in the lawsuit against the tobacco companies. Can you let me know?

  15. Vera Polyakov Says:

    I would like to know how to join in the lawsuit against the tobacco companies. I am so mad about the situation. I always, when trying to quit, started out smoking lighter cigaretts. Well I guess I know why I couldnt quit.

  16. Bear Says:

    I would also like to know how to join the class ation law suit , as cigarettes have been one of the worst things. I have ever had to deal with and addiction sucks even if it is light cigarettes!!! I will qite for a little bit and then gain abunch of wieght and then start smoking again to lose it { or just o stop from gaining it} Please tell me how I can join this law suit.

  17. nina jones Says:

    I would like to know how to join the class action law suit because I have been smoking almost twenty years. I am really upset about the situation. Now I know why I can’t quit this nasty habit. Please let me know how to join this law suit.
    Thank You
    Nina Jones

  18. Rose Crosby Says:

    How do I contact Mr. Hausfeld about the “Light” cigarette class action lawsuit?

  19. Mike Ary Says:

    You can e-mail Mr. Hausfeld’s firm at maybe they would be interested in collecting more information for the upcoming trial in 2007.

  20. Martha Fishback Says:

    I would like to join the group for the law suit due to smoking and developing COPD, I am 51 and had smoked for 28+ years, I am currently on oxygen and taking various meds to continue to breathe.

  21. amanda bauer Says:

    i would also like to find out how to join this law suit, im a 43 yr old smoker of marlboro lights, i was diagnosed with lung cancer last october.i swithced to lights probably 20 years ago, because i thought they were safer, heck even used to say lower tar and nicotine on the pack. ive been in cemo now for a few months and have no hair, on oxygen, and pretty much house ridden. please send me some info thank you

  22. Diane Galusha Says:

    I began smoking over thirty five years ago beginning with Marlboro Red in my teen years and switching to Marlboro Lights at age 20. I well remember my decision to switch to Light Cigarettes and I did base it on the advertisements that were out there and frequent. They promised it was lower in “the bad stuff” and much healthier for you. I thought at the time and for many many years after that I really was safer because I smoked a light cigarette. It was such irresponsible advertising.

  23. willie plummer Says:

    i would like to be a part of class action suite. on behalf of my late mother. could you please give me more info

  24. Rodrigo M. Ancheta Says:

    Started smoking about 26 years ago and switched from marlboro red to lights over 15 years ago with the understanding that it is less harmful to my health.

  25. Richard F Back Says:

    I would like to be part of a class action law suit against tobacco companies.

  26. violetplanet Says:

    I am developing a feature-documentary on the history of the tobacco industry entitled ADDICTION, INC. for Acappella Pictures in Los Angeles. The film is produced and directed by Charles Evans (produced the Oscar-winning film THE AVIATOR).

    I am trying to find out how many hearings Philip Morris has been asked to appear for and declined? ( Declinations of Hearing Attendance).

    Would anyone in your organization have the answer to this or know a good information source? Hopefully there is a list out there?! Could you please email me if you know anything.

    Any help you could provide would be much appreciated.

    Many thanks,

    Michelle Sullivan
    Associate Producer
    Acappella Pictures



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