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The eight state attorneys general hoping to get an accord to end their suits against tobacco marketers are said to be revising their demanded ad restrictions so marketers would be free to give away unbranded merchandise.

Earlier, the attorneys general were seeking an end to all merchandise giveaways and elimination of all outdoor signage (AA, Aug. 17).


Gary Black, a tobacco industry analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said a deal could be announced in the next two weeks, but only if the attorneys general of at least 40 states sign on.

The eight states are talking with just two tobacco marketers, Philip Morris Cos. and Lorillard Tobacco Co., about four major ad and marketing curbs similar to those of earlier state settlements.

The tobacco companies would pay the remaining states that hadn't settled between $190 billion to $200 billion over a number of years, but would get "renegade" rebate fees if their share of cigarette sales slipped because of gains by marketers that don't sign the agreement.

Mr. Black said the deal is far from certain, in part because some attorneys general are reluctant to sign and in part because Philip Morris and Lorillard may be reluctant to sign without RJR Nabisco Holdings Corp. and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. being on board.

"It's tough to come up with a package that would be acceptable to 40 states. veryone wants to be tough, to be hero, to play Rambo," said Mr. Black, though he predicts the other tobacco marketers would sign if enough states agree.


The state attorneys general face a fairly quick deadline for deciding whether to settle their cases; Washington's case against tobacco companies is to start jury selection Sept. 21 with opening arguments due to begin Sept. 28.

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