New Federal Tobacco Suit: “Give Me The Money!”

WASHINGTON, DC, September 22, 1999 – The Competitive Enterprise Institute charged that today’s federal government lawsuit against the tobacco industry demonstrated that tobacco revenues are far more addictive than tobacco itself. CEI general counsel Sam Kazman stated: “This is not a search for justice, but a treasure hunt, plain and simple.”

In CEI’s view, the risks of smoking have long been recognized by the public, regardless of industry attempts to dodge the issue. The real question is why informed adults shouldn’t be able to accept those risks. That basic question has been obscured by such issues as secondhand smoke and underage smoking, but over time those issues have simply collapsed. EPA’s classification of secondhand smoke as a carcinogen was overturned by a federal judge in July, 1998.

As for the claim that the industry deliberately targeted underage smokers, Mr. Kazman pointed out that no criminal indictments charging such acts have ever been filed. “Despite millions of newly disclosed documents and numerous state lawsuits, not a single criminal indictment for alleged marketing to minors has ever been filed. This new federal lawsuit only continues that pattern.”

“Even the issue of smoking’s social cost is baseless,” Kazman continued. “The medical cost of treating smokers is more than canceled out by the early deaths of many smokers. This may be a morbid view, but it’s true – smoking is risky.”

CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Emily McGee, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010, ext. 209.