TOBACCO: Clinton Urged To Sue Industry
Massachusetts Sens. John Kerry (D) and Edward Kennedy (D) are pressuring the Clinton administration to file a legal claim against the tobacco industry "patterned after the 37 pending state lawsuits." USA Today reports that Kerry wants the federal government to "recoup money spent treating smoking-related illnesses under Medicare, Medicaid and veterans' programs." The Treasury Department estimates that $60 billion is spent to treat smoking-related illnesses each year, some $21 billion of which is covered by the federal government. "Two senior administration officials, who declined to be identified," said that while the president would prefer a legislative package to curtail smoking and recoup costs, the administration is also considering a lawsuit. The officials said no decision will be made until the end of the congressional session. Scott Williams, a tobacco industry spokesperson, said "the federal government would have a hard time proving its case," noting that "Washington has been warning Americans about tobacco's hazards since the first surgeon general's report in 1964." USA Today notes that the state attorneys general are meeting today in Durango, CO, to discuss their renewed tobacco settlement talks (Koch, 7/14).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.