Lockyer Settles Lawsuit Against Smokeless Tobacco Company over Illegal Distribution of Products
Officials from U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, which manufactures the Skoal, Copenhagen and Rooster smokeless tobacco brands, yesterday announced that the company has agreed to a $171,000 settlement with Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) and will end distribution of free samples in public places in the state, the AP/Ventura County Star reports (AP/Ventura County Star, 10/18). In a civil lawsuit, Lockyer alleged that UST twice violated a state law when the company distributed samples at the Placer and Alameda county fairgrounds in 1999. Under state law, companies can only distribute free samples of tobacco products in places that do not admit minors (Levin, Los Angeles Times, 10/17). UST officials denied the allegations but said that they settled the lawsuit to "avoid the cost and delay of litigation," the AP/Star reports. Under the settlement, the company agreed to permanently end distribution of free samples in public places in the state. The state will use $150,000 from the settlement for tobacco prevention programs and $21,000 to cover the cost of the investigation into the allegations against UST. A judge will review the settlement on Oct. 29 (AP/Ventura County Star, 10/18). "Free cigarette and smokeless tobacco products inevitably wind up in the hands of children, and studies show that people who start smoking cigarettes or using smokeless tobacco products as children are more likely to become addicted to nicotine than those who start as adults," Lockyer said (Office of the Attorney General release, 10/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.