1964
The first major report on smoking and health, Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General, is published. The report shows a link between cigarette smoking and cancer, and called for remedial measures. The first national antismoking coalition is formed and insurance companies begin offering discounted rates to non-smokers.
1965
Congress requires warning labels on cigarettes.
1967
The Federal Trade Commission rules that the Fairness Doctrine applies to cigarette ads, requiring broadcasters that air such ads to donate time to smoking prevention messages.
1969
The National Association of Broadcasters endorses a phase-out of cigarette ads.
1970
Congress passes a law banning cigarette ads on television and radio and requires a stronger warning on cigarette packages
1973
The Civil Aeronautics Board requires non-smoking sections on all commercial airliners and Arizona becomes the first state to restrict smoking in public places.
1977
The American Cancer Society sponsors the first "Great American Smokeout."
1981
A Surgeon-General's report concludes no level of cigarette consumption is safe.
1982
Congress doubles the excise tax on cigarettes to 16 cents per pack.
1988
A Surgeon-General's report concludes nicotine is addictive. Congress bans smoking on domestic flights of two hours or less.
1990
Smoking is banned on all domestic flights of six hours or less.
1991
The federal cigarette tax is increased to 20 cents. The FDA approves use of a nicotine patch to help smokers quit.
1992
The federal government denies funding to states that do not ban tobacco sales to minors.
1994
Legislation proposes to prohibit smoking in the workplace. Major cigarette manufacturers testify before Congress that nicotine is not addictive and that they did not manipulate nicotine levels in their cigarettes. Mississippi becomes the first state to sue the tobacco industry to recover Medicaid costs to tobacco-related illnesses.
1995
The Journal of the American Medical Association publishes articles claiming that tobacco companies knew about the harmful effects of smoking and that nicotine is addictive.
1996
The Liggett Group offers to settle the Castano class action lawsuit, the biggest of the tobacco liability cases. It is the first time a manufacturer takes responsibility for tobacco-related deaths and diseases. Four companies later agree to pay the state $3.4 billion over 25 years.
1997
The nation's largest tobacco companies settle a Florida lawsuit by agreeing to pay the state $11.3 billion over the next 25 years and to take steps aimed at reducing underage smoking. The industry also settles a $349 million class action suit over second-hand smoke with airline flight attendants. A federal judge rules that the government can regulate tobacco as a drug.
1998
Tobacco firms settle lawsuits in Texas and Minnesota. A Florida jury imposes damages for a smoker's death. Industry leaders are in talks with states about legislation that would limit lawsuits in return for restrictions on tobacco sales and use. The Senate kills such a settlement bill. Forty-six states approve a $206 billion settlement with cigarette makers.
1999
The Justice Department sues the tobacco industry to recover costs of treating sick smokers and accuses cigarette makers of deceit.
March 2000
In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the FDA cannot regulate tobacco as a drug without Congressional action.
April 2000
A Florida jury rules that cigarettes caused the cancer of two smokers who sued Big Tobacco. Jurors awarded millions to the smokers. Billions in punitive damages may be imposed later.
July 2000
The same Florida jury orders the tobacco industry to pay more than $145 billion in punitive damages to sick Florida smokers, a record-shattering verdict that the cigarette companies had claimed would amount to a "death warrant."
March 2001
Reports emerge that five states (Arizona, California, New York, Ohio and Washington State) will file suit against R.J. Reynolds for allegedly violating the 1998 national tobacco settlement by placing tobacco ads in magazines and at car race tracks.
June 4, 2001
A Brooklyn jury ordered Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Co. and other cigarette makers to pay up $17.8 million to an insurance company that claimed deceptive marketing practices led more of its members to smoke.
June 19, 2001
The Bush administration decides to seek a settlement in the federal government's lawsuit against tobacco firms, which seeks reimbursement for money spent by federal health plans on tobacco-related illnesses.
October 4, 2002
A jury in California awarded a record-shattering $28 billion in punitive damages to a 64-year-old former smoker who sued Philip Morris Inc. for fraud and negligence.the company has said it will appeal and the award is expected to be reduced on appeal.
May 21, 2003
A Florida appeals court tosses out 2000's record-setting $145 billion verdict against the nation's five biggest cigarette makers, saying it should not have been a class-action suit. The appeals court also agreed with the tobacco industry that the award would have violated state law by bankrupting them. The jury had decided that cigarettes are deadly, addictive and defective because they make people sick when used as directed.
Oct. 6, 2003
The U.S. Supreme Court throws out an $80 million verdict against Philip Morris, saying lower courts should review the 1999 verdict to ensure it is not unconstitutionally excessive. The family of Jesse D. Williams, an Oregon janitor who died in 1997 of lung cancer, says he kept smoking because he did not believe a company would sell something that was truly harmful.
Sept. 21, 2004
The government's $280 billion civil racketeering suit against the tobacco industry goes to trial. The Justice Department says starting in the 1960s the industry spent millions to counter scientific evidence linking smoking to cancer. The industry says it has changed its ways following its 1998 settlement with states, and therefore the government will not be able to meet the burden of proof that there is the potential for fraud in the future.
Feb. 4, 2005
In a huge victory for Big Tobacco, a U.S. appeals court rules that the Justice Department can't seek the $280 billion it alleges the industry earned through misleading the public. At issue was whether the civil racketeering (RICO) statute the case was brought under permits recovery of money for past actions. The industry said the case should have come under criminal RICO laws, which hold a higher burden of proof and allow such a penalty.
July 6, 2006
The Florida Supreme Court rejects $145 billion punitive damages award against tobacco companies for injuring smokers, saying it was excessive. The award had been the largest ever by an American jury. The justices also approved an appellate court ruling that it had been a mistake to certify a class-action lawsuit representing an estimated 300,000 to 700,000 ill Floridians. The certification led to the huge jury award for punitive damages in 2000.
Aug. 18, 2006
A federal judge sides with the U.S. government in its civil racketeering suit against the cigarette industry. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that that the industry conspired for decades to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking and now must pay to help smokers kick the habit. The only cigarette maker excluded from her ruling was Liggett Group Inc.
Sept. 25, 2006
A federal judge granted class action status to millions of "light cigarette" smokers in a potential $200 billion lawsuit. The 2004 lawsuit alleges Philip Morris USA Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Tobacco Co. and others duped smokers, and responded to health concerns with a campaign of deception designed to preserve revenue. The class is anyone who purchased cigarettes labeled "light" or "lights" since the early 1970s.
Feb. 20, 2007
The Supreme Court threw out a $79.5 million punitive damages award to a smoker's widow. The 5-4 ruling was a victory for Philip Morris USA. The court said the verdict could not stand because the jury in the case was not instructed that it could punish Philip Morris only for the harm done to the plaintiff, not to other smokers whose cases were not before it.
Aug. 1, 2007
A Senate committee embraced legislation that would for the first time allow federal regulation of cigarettes. The bill, approved 13-8 by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, would give the FDA authority to restrict tobacco advertising, regulate warning labels and remove hazardous ingredients. The agency also would be given the authority to set standards for products that tobacco companies advertise as "reduced risk" products.