by Max Brantley
He's attorney for two Arkansans suing Philip Morris in a class action for selling "light" cigarettes as a safer, healtheir and less addictive alternative to quitting smoking.
Thrash says Philip Morris has asked for a protective order to seal from public view documents about the toxic nature of additives to the cigarettes, manipulation of nicotine in them and levels of nicotine necessary for addiction.
Circuit Judge Tim Fox will hear arguments on the confidentiality request Dec. 18. It is a rare day when a public court's business should be shielded from the public. I'm not inclined to sympathize with the argument that this is one of them. The public should have access to all information available about dangers of a consumer product.
After Philip Morris lost a federal case over dangers of the "light" cigarettes and representations in the marketing, Congress passed a law to prohibit Philip Morris from selling "light," "low tar" and "low nicotine" cigarettes. But, Thrash argues, the tobacco company has told Marlboro Light buyers to ask for "Marlboro in the gold pack" because the cigarette wasn't changing.
Argument for confidentiality here. The tobacco company says it's routinely granted to protect trade secrets from competitors.
Response to that argument here. Thrash argues that there's immense public health interest at issue.