The People vs. Big Tobacco: How the States Took on the Cigarette Giants

Carrick Mollenkamp, Author, Joseph Karl Menn, Author, Adam Levy, Author
Carrick Mollenkamp, Author, Joseph Karl Menn, Author, Adam Levy, Author Bloomberg Press $23.95 (300p) ISBN 978-1-57660-057-3
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
The authors of this behind-the-scenes report are the Bloomberg News team who broke the story of the June 1997 landmark settlement, now pending before Congress, whereby U.S. cigarette makers agreed to pay $368.5 billion over 25 years to smokers and states to recoup medical costs for cigarette-related illnesses. The Bloomberg team reconstructs secret negotiations among cigarette companies' CEOs and anti-tobacco attorneys. They highlight the bravery of whistle-blowers like Kentucky paralegal Merrell Williams, who leaked documents showing that tobacco executives knew nicotine was addictive. The authors ably follow the evolution of the ad hoc coalition of states attorneys-general, public health advocates and cigarette smokers that rammed through the settlement in just three months, abetted by the Clinton White House, which, as the authors reveal, played a major role in crafting the agreement, considered by critics as a weak compromise. Indeed, readers may wonder whether the settlement is mostly smoke--it bans future class-action lawsuits, limits the amount of damages an individual can collect, frees the tobacco companies from liability for virtually all prior lawsuits and, if approved, will allow cigarette makers to pass on the lion's share of expenses to consumers in the form of price increases. Photos. (Feb.)
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