News Release

Talks on Tobacco Lawsuit: Set Up for a Sellout?


While the Justice Department moves ahead to arrange settlement talks with major tobacco firms, critics are speaking out. The following tobacco policy advocates are available for interviews:

Noltenius, executive director of the Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco, said today: “Too many people have died of tobacco-related diseases for the Justice Department not to put its strongest case forward to recoup at least some of the health care costs. The federal government should negotiate from a position of strength, not weakness. This new administration has to be responsive to the needs of all communities — specifically including Latino and other minority communities — who feel strongly that they have been targeted by the tobacco industry.”
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Glantz is professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco and author of The Cigarette Papers and Tobacco War. He was responsible for unearthing large quantities of previously secret tobacco industry documents. Glantz said today: “The tobacco industry is now getting a ‘Get-out-of-jail-free’ card from the Bush administration as a reward for the millions of dollars in campaign contributions that the industry has given the Republican Party, including Bush himself, in recent years. The actions of the administration are not surprising, given that the administration is permeated from the top down with people with close ties to the tobacco industry — including Karl Rove, who is Bush’s top political advisor; Ted Olson, the solicitor general, who sued the University of California on behalf of a front group indirectly established by Philip Morris in an effort to stop my research; and the people in the Federal Trade Commission in charge of tobacco policies. For the Bush administration to claim that the case is weak is to ignore the evidence that the Justice Department has amassed to date, as well as the fact that the trial court judge ruled that the racketeering part of the case could move forward. The racketeering part of the case is the most serious aspect of the case, and the easiest to prove given what we already know about the industry’s coordinated deceit over the past 50 years.”