Statement: U.S. Department of… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Statement: U.S. Department of Justice’s Filing of a Civil Lawsuit Against the Tobacco Industry

Statement by Bill Novelli, President and Matthew L. Myers, Executive Vice President and General Counsel
September 22, 1999

Washington, DC - The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS applauds the U.S. Department of Justice’s filing of a civil lawsuit against the tobacco industry in order to recoup billions of taxpayers’ dollars in damages for treating smoking-caused illnesses.

This suit represents the most serious legal threat the tobacco industry has ever faced -- a threat that dwarfs those posed by the state cases, which resulted in settlements that cost the industry $246 billion.

The tobacco companies’ attempts to cover up the risks and harmful effects of smoking have been going on for decades and still continue today. Tobacco causes more than 430,000 deaths each year and costs billions of dollars -- more than $20 billion annually just in federal government payments.

The American public wants action; it is important to public health not to let the industry off the hook for its decades of deception. Far too many people have fallen to tobacco-related disease and death. We must save today’s kids from becoming the next generation of tobacco industry victims. This lawsuit will refocus public attention on the tobacco issue.

The tobacco industry’s claim, as it was during the states’ litigation, is that the federal suit is politically motivated. This is a smokescreen. It is right for the federal government, just as it was for the 50 states, to recover damages that the tobacco industry has caused. Tobacco costs and tobacco’s harm are nonpartisan problems. The CAMPAIGN commends the efforts of the Department of Justice to hold the tobacco industry accountable for its misdeeds and to collect taxpayer money for the harm and damages the industry has caused.