Tobacco meetings extended

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The Independent Online
Representatives from Philip Morris and RJR Nabisco plan to meet with unnamed opponents of the tobacco industry in the US next week to discuss details of a litigation settlement, including using company research in anti-smoking campaigns.

The negotiators also plan to discuss placing limits on tobacco advertising and on government regulation of cigarettes, as well as how to split the $300bn (pounds 185bn) the companies are considering as payment to settle health- related suits.

The tobacco industry was willing "to change the way it does business", said Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Attorney General, yesterday. "There is a trove of damning evidence that would be dynamite to use against tobacco consumption."

The two days of negotiations extend months of talks aimed at ending a 35-year battle over tobacco companies' potential liability for the health problems of cigarette smokers.

Three weeks ago, the chairmen of Philip Morris and RJR Nabisco, the two biggest tobacco companies in the US, joined the talks.

Full details of what will be discussed at the meeting are not being divulged. Robert Fiske, an attorney for the tobacco industry, declined to comment about the meeting.

Tobacco company stocks fell in late trading on Wall Street yesterday. Philip Morris stock was the biggest faller, dropping $1.75 to $41.5.