Tobacco Company To Pay $5M in Lawsuit
RJ Reynolds Tobacco on Monday said it will pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit accusing the tobacco manufacturer of illegally distributing 108,155 free packs of cigarettes on public grounds, the Sacramento Bee reports.
In the 2001 lawsuit, Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) alleged that the company violated a 1991 state law prohibiting the distribution of free cigarettes in any public building or on public grounds. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the state and imposed a $14.8 million fine on the company. The state Supreme Court upheld the ruling but asked a lower court to determine whether that penalty was excessive.
Under the settlement, RJR will pay $3.1 million in civil penalties and $900,000 in court costs. The company also will be required to contribute $1 million to the Public Health Institute to fund tobacco control, advocacy and education programs (McIntosh, Sacramento Bee, 5/9).
RJR did not admit wrongdoing in the case.
The court must approve the settlement before it is finalized (Veiga, AP/Contra Costa Times, 5/9).