Anti-Smoking Groups Ask To Intervene in DOJ Tobacco Lawsuit
Six health advocacy organizations on Wednesday filed a motion in federal court requesting permission to intervene in the Department of Justice's civil racketeering lawsuit against several major tobacco companies, the Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal reports. The motion is "the strongest signal yet of anti-smoking advocates' anger at the government's handling" of the case, specifically DOJ's "last-minute decision to slice $120 billion off the cost of its proposed smoking-cessation remedy during closing arguments in early June," Dow Jones/Journal reports.
The organizations that filed the motion are the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network and the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund, which is affiliated with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The motion filed with U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler states, "As the actions of the government demonstrate, the interests represented by the proposed intervenors are no longer being adequately represented." The groups do not wish to present new evidence in the trial, which ended earlier this month, but instead wish to present "arguments solely on the issue of the appropriate and necessary remedies that should be imposed in this case." Filings on remedies are scheduled for Aug. 24 and Sept. 19 (Blackstone, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, 6/30).
Paul Billings, a vice president for ALA, said, "We're no longer confident that the government is going to represent the best interests of the American people in the case."
John Seffrin, CEO of ACS, said the government's $10 billion smoking-cessation plan "doesn't even begin to offer (American smokers) the assistance they need to drop the deadly habit and live a life free of tobacco."
William Ohlemeyer -- vice president of Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris -- said the groups' motion was "an inappropriate effort ... to improperly inject themselves into a lawsuit to which they are not parties." DOJ declined to comment (Roxe, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/29).