White House pushes for tobacco talks

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The Independent Online
The White House was last night due to resume talks attempting to hammer out an all-inclusive $300bn (pounds 185bn) settlement of tobacco litigation in the US.

A spokesman said Bruce Lindsey, a Presidential aide, had scheduled "several, multiple tobacco-related meetings" that would focus on last week's US district court ruling that the government could regulate tobacco sales and marketing, but not promotion and advertising. President Bill Clinton has already said he will appeal against the limits on government regulatory powers imposed by the court.

Meanwhile, a Mississippi state judge in a $650m smoking-related death case was yesterday deciding whether to step down following allegations from the tobacco industry's lawyers.

They have complained that the defence was not properly represented when Judge Joe Landrum twice met lawyers for the plaintiff. The case involves the death of Burl Butler, a barber from Laurel, Mississippi, whom it is alleged died from "second-hand" cigarette smoke in his shop. Judge Landrum has presided over the case since it was filed in 1994.