TOBACCO LITIGATION: Industry Now Vulnerable, Says Chronicle
An editorial in today's San Francisco Chronicle states the $50 million judgment against Philip Morris this week indicates that "the tide is turning on big tobacco and more lawsuits and huge fines are on the way." Of particular significance, the Chronicle notes, is the size of the award in the "first test of an individual's chances in a California court against a tobacco company" since a ban on such actions was lifted in 1997. The jury suggested that not only is the "industry's traditional defense that the dangers of smoking are common knowledge and smoking is an individual's choice" crumbling, but that the public is also "furious at cigarette makers" for hiding the real hazards. With more private suits expected, and the U.S. Department of Justice exploring the feasibility of legal action, the paper says that "now is a good time for the government to tighten the noose on tobacco." The editorial concludes: "The industry may be forced to reconsider a $516 billion settlement with the Feds it rejected last year. But the government must insist Big Tobacco be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, that advertising be limited and penalties imposed if there is an increase in teenage smokers" (2/12).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.