AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFrumpy Middle-aged Mom: My realistic 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Some involve doughnuts.Kessler, who presided over the nonjury trial in the case, said that adoption of a national stop-smoking program, as sought by the government, “would unquestionably serve the public interest” but that she was barred by an appeals court ruling that said remedies must be forward-looking and not penalties for past actions. The government had asked the judge to make the companies pay $10 billion for smoking cessation programs, though the Justice Department’s own expert said $130 billion was needed. That reduction in recommended remedies led to accusations that Robert McCallum, an associate attorney general appointed by President George W. Bush, had tried to weaken the case. An internal Justice Department investigation cleared him of wrongdoing, however, saying he was supporting a figure he thought could be sustained on appeal. McCallum is now U.S. ambassador to Australia. Kessler’s decision came nearly a decade after the states reached legal settlements with the industry worth $246 billion and aimed at recovering health care costs. Those settlements imposed some restrictions on the industry, such as banning ads on billboards and public transportation. In the federal case, tobacco companies had denied committing fraud and had said changes in how cigarettes are sold now make it impossible for them to act fraudulently in the future. WASHINGTON – A federal judge ruled Thursday that the nation’s top cigarette makers violated racketeering laws, deceiving the public for years about the health hazards of smoking, but said she couldn’t order them to pay the billions of dollars the government had sought. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler did order the companies to publish in newspapers and on their Web sites “corrective statements” on the adverse health effects and addictiveness of smoking and nicotine. She also ordered tobacco companies to stop labeling cigarettes as “low tar,” “light,” “ultra light” or “mild,” since such cigarettes have been found to be no safer than others because of how people smoke them. In her ruling in the long-running case, the judge said, “Over the course of more than 50 years, defendants lied, misrepresented and deceived the American public, including smokers and the young people they avidly sought as `replacement smokers,’ about the devastating health effects of smoking and environmental tobacco smoke (secondhand smoke).” In addition to saying she could not force the companies to pay for a quit-smoking program, Kessler rejected a government bid to impose fines on the industry if youth-smoking rates fail to drop in the coming years. Mark Smith, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., said company officials were “gratified that the court did not award unjustified and extraordinarily expensive monetary penalties.” At the same time, Smith said, the company was disappointed by Kessler’s finding that the companies had conspired to violate federal law and deceive consumers. The Justice Department, which filed the lawsuit, expressed disappointment in Kessler’s decision not to impose financial penalties against cigarette makers. “Nevertheless, we are hopeful that the remedies that were imposed by the court can have a significant, positive impact on the health of the American public,” the department said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!