NADER CRITICIZES "SWEETHEART
DEAL" FOR BIG TOBACCO
The multistate settlement agreement
between some state attorneys general and Big Tobacco is plainly a sweetheart
deal concocted by the addictive companies' law firms for the industry.
State AGs should reject it.
The reported insistence by the industry that states accept the deal
on a take-it-or-leave-it basis within a week should be indication enough
that something is seriously wrong. Attorneys general should demand at least
60 days to review the proposed intricate deal.
What possible justification is there for ramming this deal through?
Is the industry trying to circumvent newly elected, tougher-on-tobacco
attorneys general in California, New York and elsewhere?
The deal would let the industry get off cheap, enable the companies
to keep secret many of their most incriminating documents, interfere with
local enforcement actions and suits against Big Tobacco, and tie the hands
of future attorneys general in addressing future misconduct by the industry.
It contains worrisome provisions that will enable Big Tobacco to shield
its food and beverage divisions from payment obligations. RJR and Brown
and Williamson are even permitted to shield revenue from their international
The deal's public health measures are very weak. There are no "look-back"
penalties, which would penalize the companies if sales to minors do not
State attorneys general should reject the proposed deal. There is an
alternative -- take their cases to trial, or settle them on an individual
basis. States doing this would get better deals, and the opportunity to
build on what came before. Early settling states would benefit from later
settlement innovations, through "Most Favored Nation" provisions.
For More Information, contact: Ralph Nader or Robert Weissman, 202-387-8034