U.S. sues tobacco makers

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The U.S. Department of Justice today filed its long promised suit against Big Tobacco. The Justice Department is seeking more than $120 billion from tobacco companies, charging they misled the public about the risks of smoking, deceptively marketed some brands as "light'' and "engaged in a campaign to market cigarettes to children.'' The lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Washington, seeks to recover what the government has been paying to treat smoking illnesses, and claims the tobacco companies were involved in a conspiracy and should have to give up the profits they earned as a result. As part of that conspiracy, Justice alleges R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. ordered an ad agency to destroy Joe Camel documents. Tobacco companies reacted with anger to the filing, calling the lawsuit "political'' and saying it had no justification in law. A Philip Morris Cos. attorney said the company would seek to have the suit dismissed.

Copyright September 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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