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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Tobacco & Marijuana -

Health groups seek to intervene in U.S. tobacco case

Tobacco & MarijuanaJun 30, 05

Anti-smoking and health advocates made a bid to intervene in the U.S. government’s racketeering case against cigarette makers, telling a federal judge the Justice Department was not being tough enough on the industry.

Six anti-smoking groups said they filed with U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler arguing that they should be made formal parties to the lawsuit so they can propose stricter sanctions against the industry.

The groups, including the Tobacco Free Kids Action Fund, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association, criticized as inadequate scaled back legal remedies being sought by the government.

“As the actions of the government demonstrate, the interests represented by the proposed intervenors are no longer being adequately represented,” the groups said in a motion filed with the court.

The comment echoed criticism of the department’s recent decision to scale back a key legal remedy they are seeking in the case.

The government late Monday asked Kessler to require cigarette makers to fund a $10 billion quit-smoking program and $4 billion for an anti-smoking education campaign to remedy decades of alleged fraud by the industry.

But the request angered anti-smoking groups because it was only a fraction of the $130 billion, 25-year program recommended by a government witness.

Targeted in the 1999 lawsuit are: Altria and its Philip Morris unit; Loews Corp.‘s Lorillard Tobacco unit, which has a tracking stock, Carolina Group; Vector Group Ltd.‘s Liggett Group; Reynolds American’s R.J. Reynolds Tobacco unit; and British American Tobacco Plc unit, British American Tobacco Investments Ltd.

The companies deny they illegally conspired to promote smoking and say the government has no grounds to pursue them or impose additional restrictions after they drastically overhauled marketing practices as part of a 1998 settlement.

Altria called the motion “an inappropriate effort on behalf of these organizations to improperly inject themselves into a lawsuit to which they are not parties.”

“There is no legal basis for this motion, and we will oppose it,” Altria said in a statement.

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