US states edge near tobacco deal
Friday 20 June 1997
``We're very optimistic. We hope to present an agreement in principle to the White House," said Scott Harshbarger, the Massachusetts Attorney- general.
Talks between tobacco industry representatives and the state attorneys general have been going on since early April. The negotiations are aimed at a broad settlement of the huge legal claims against the industry in return for some form of increased regulation and curbs on advertising and marketing of tobacco products.
Forty states have sued the industry to recoup the costs of treating sick smokers. The states are demanding that the industry agree to be punished for past actions, that it pay compensatory and punitive damages for smoking-related injuries and that it agree to allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate cigarettes as a drug.
Sources close to both the state attorneys general and the tobacco industry said they doubted a deal would be reached until late last night at the soonest, and some said they thought it might be today.
Asked how talks were progressing, Richard Scruggs, a Mississippi lawyer assisting several of the states, replied, "The horse is still breathing."
The main negotiator representing the anti-smoking, American health organisations, Matthew Myers, was absent Thursday to attend a funeral.
The Connecticut Attorney-general Richard Blumenthal said two areas of disagreement remained.
``One, details as to the terms of any final settlement protecting public health." Blumenthal said. "And the larger issues relating to assuring that people's rights are protected to sue the industry for the harm that's done," he added.
The main tobacco companies Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, and Brown & Williamson declined to comment on the negotiations.
The White House has taken a keen interest in the talks but has been careful not to appear to be running them.
Negotiators have considered turning over an incomplete proposal to the White House and asking it to resolve the contentious issue of whether the industry would pay so-called punitive damages, according to sources close to the talks. Punitive damages are awarded to punish and deter wrongful behaviour.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, President Bill Clinton urged tobacco companies and anti-smoking forces to stay at the negotiating table until they reached an agreement. However, he did not preclude personally intervening if he is convinced the two sides have exhausted all hope of reaching a deal.
``I don't want to rule in or out what I might say, but I want these parties to come to me and say, `This is where we are. We've done all we can do, here's where we are','' Mr Clinton said in an interview on Wednesday. "And I want them to do the very best they can first."
President Clinton left Washington yesterday for a summit of world leaders in Denver without his top advisor on the tobacco negotiations, Bruce Lindsey, who stayed behind to monitor the talks. White House spokesman Mike McCurry said Lindsey would delay his departure for Denver until tomorrow.
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
- 3 Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014: In defence of Mesut Ozil - the Arsenal midfielder works magic in the shadows
- 4 BBC’s new Game of Thrones slayer 'The Last Kingdom' relies on Saxon appeal, creators say
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Jennifer Lawrence face palms Emma Watson at Christian Dior show in Paris
Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
Pamplona Running of the Bulls 2014: Briton critically injured in San Fermin festival
Israel's deadliest Gaza air strikes yet kill five children from same family as Palestinian rocket barrage continues
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
British jihadist calls for 'flag of Islam' over Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organ...
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Linux Systems Administrator - UNI...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Systems Administrator - Orac...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Linux Systems Administrator - (Su...