The Liggett Group broke ranks with the tobacco industry again Monday, becoming the first cigarette maker to comply with a state law requiring companies to disclose the ingredients of tobacco products.
Despite a federal injunction last week delaying implementation of the law, the head of Liggett hand-delivered lists of cigarette ingredients to acting Gov. Paul Cellucci.
“We’re very proud to have stepped forward,” said Bennett LeBow, chairman of the Miami-based Brooke Group Ltd., Liggett’s parent. “People have a right to know what’s in their cigarettes.”
The ingredient information is valuable to the company, LeBow said, but “I think the issue of public health is much more valuable to everyone.”
Liggett Group Inc. - maker of L&M;, Eve, Lark and Chesterfield cigarettes - is the smallest of the major cigarette makers. In March, the company settled lawsuits with states suing the industry, turning over thousands of secret documents to use as evidence against its competitors.
Two weeks ago, Liggett said it had started placing ingredient lists on its products. LeBow said the information submitted Monday was more detailed. The state health department didn’t immediately release the information.
A first-in-the-nation law passed last year in Massachusetts required makers of cigarettes, snuff and chewing tobacco to submit lists of their ingredients to the state.
But tobacco companies, arguing they were being forced to disclose trade secrets, fought the law in court. A federal judge ruled last week that the companies didn’t have to comply by the Monday deadline.
“The companies have taken the position that their trade secrets are private property and cannot be disclosed for competitive reasons,” said industry spokesman Scott Williams.
Also Monday, the tobacco companies complied with a second part of the disclosure law, left untouched by the judge’s ruling.
The companies submitted tests of nicotine levels in their products that suggested that smokers are generally inhaling more nicotine than indicated by Federal Trade Commission tests.
However, tobacco companies complained that the Massachusetts tests required smoking machines to puff longer and more frequently than the FTC tests.
The tobacco industry said it preferred the tobacco ingredient disclosure requirements under the nationwide tobacco settlement announced in June. That settlement is pending in Congress.