TOBACCO SETTLEMENT: Critics Give Deal Thumbs Down
At a California Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday, critics charged that the $206 billion tobacco settlement does not do enough to discourage new smokers and will cover less than half of the state's smoking-related medical costs. State Sen. Adam Schiff (D), who chairs the committee, "denounced the proposal." Critics contend that the deal leaves too many loopholes and that marketing concessions and limits on youth smoking are anemic. Moreover, they argue the "agreement improperly immunizes tobacco companies against future claims and unfairly preempts local governments from suing the industry." Dr. Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego and a leading tobacco critic, said, "This is one of the most important issues to affect the health of the industry. To have this jammed down the public's throat is outrageous."
The AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports that state Attorney General Dan Lungren (R), who said he would approve the deal, was conspicuously absent from the hearing, but Attorney General-elect Bill Lockyer (D) was in attendance. Lungren spokesperson Bill Maile said, "This is not legislation where it would be appropriate for a formal public hearing process. This is litigation and this proposed settlement would resolve the litigation. The attorney general's office has had plenty of time to review the proposed settlement as have the other parties." But Glantz said, "If this really is such a good deal, then Lungren should have been here to defend it" (Covarrubias, 11/19). Click here for recent CHL coverage of the tobacco settlement.