Nov. 6 2000
Washington, DC — The proposed settlement is a get-out-of-jail-free card that does nothing to hold Lorillard Tobacco accountable for the death and disease its products have caused in the past or to reduce the harm these products will cause in the future. The proposed settlement fails to compensate any individuals for the harm tobacco products have caused them and imposes so little in punitive damages that it will have no significant impact on Lorillard's bottom line. Furthermore, it includes no provisions that would protect the public health by reducing tobacco use and requiring Lorillard to change its harmful practices. The small amount of money that would be allocated to medical research does not alter the conclusion that this is a bad deal for smokers and the American public. The only people who would benefit are Lorillard's executives and shareholders and the plaintiffs' lawyers.
For more than 40 years, Lorillard and the other tobacco companies have known that they were responsible for more than one-third of all deaths from cancer and heart disease in the United States. For all this time, Lorillard has continued to lie about its deadly products and has done nothing to stop the carnage. The proposed settlement does not require Lorillard to admit that it has done anything wrong or change the practices that prompted these cases in the first place. It also overreaches by seeking to interfere with other ongoing litigation against the tobacco industry, including the Engle lawsuit in Florida, and to prevent any future litigation for punitive damages against Lorillard. This settlement represents reckless disregard both for public health and for the legal rights of individuals to seek redress for the harm done to their health by the tobacco industry.