New York City takes tobacco firms to court

New York City last night followed the lead of 16 American states and filed lawsuits against tobacco manufacturers in an effort to recoup billions of dollars spent on smoking-related illnesses.

The action, announced by the city's Republican mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, will deepen the shadow that has been castover the tobacco industry by the serial lawsuits pending in the United States and by anti-smoking regulations approved by the Clinton administration.

New York is the largest US city to challenge the tobacco companies in court and the first on America's east coast. Other cities to have acted already include Los Angeles and San Francisco. Prominent among the 16 states to have filed lawsuits are Florida and Minnesota.

The defendants in the lawsuits include British American Tobacco (BAT), whose largest US tobacco subsidiary is Brown & Williamson. Defeat in any one of the cases could cost BAT and the other companies, including Philip Morris, billions of dollars in damages.

There was some relief at Brown & Williamson last night, however, after a federal judge in Lousiana threw out a case lodged against the company by the son of a former smoker with lung cancer. The lawsuit accused the company of failing to provide sufficient warning of the dangers of tobacco use.

Pressure on Mr Giuliani to take the litigation path has come from a group of health interests, known as the Coalition for a Smoke-Free City. The group had been frustrated that the state of New York, under the leadership of Republican governor, George Pataki, had declined to go to the courts on the issue.

In a letter written to the Mayor, the coalition argued: "The tobacco cartel has lied and misled the public about the dangers of tobacco addiction for decades. New York City's healthcare bill attributed to tobacco addiction exceeds $2bn annually. Recovering these costs from the tobacco cartel would be popular, fair and a major boost to the City's treasury."

The significance of the lawsuit was underscored by Richard Daynard, chairman of the influential Tobacco Products Liability Project at Northeastern University in Boston. "New York is not only the largest city to file, it's larger than most of the states that have filed," he said.

By contrast, two important tobacco-growing states, Kentucky and North Carolina, this week joined a lawsuit filed by US cigarette manufacturers against the Clinton administration. The lawsuit challenges the legality of moves by the Food and Drug Administration to reclassify tobacco products as addictive drugs and limit the sales of cigarettes to minors.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application) - Agile

£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before