US tobacco company loses 'addiction' case

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San Francisco - Documents allegedly showing that the nation's third-largest cigarette manufacturer knew of nicotine's addictive qualities 30 years ago but ignored that information have been made available here, writes Edward Helmore.

The California Supreme Court ruled that the University of California could release the papers, which detail research commissioned by Brown and Williamson, the makers of Lucky Strike and other brands.

The documents, which run to 4,000 pages, purportedly showthe Kentucky- based company knew of the carcinogenic and addictive qualities of tobacco in the 1960s but chose to ignore those research results and abandoned steps to make cigarettes safer.

Brown and Williamson had sued the University of California, saying the papers had been stolen in 1989. The documents came to light in May 1994 when they were sent anonymously to Stanton Glantz, a professor at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).

"The decision invites any person to steal documents and launder them through the UCSF library," a company lawyer said. Following the ruling, which overturned a lower court decision, the information has been put on the Internet.