The Washington Post
Friday, 9/24/99, p. A30
[continued from Index page back]
[Provided by Tobacco Daily News Summaries]
A WASHINGTON POST editorial supports the Justice Department's lawsuit
against the tobacco industry, and says the only way to determine if the
suit has legal merit is to proceed with it.
"Unlike the previous class
actions and suits by the states, a suit by the federal government treats
the problem of the multi-decade scheme by the companies to misrepresent
the addictive qualities and the adverse health consequences of smoking
as a national one in which all Americans have an interest.
It would be
nice, of course, if this public health problem could be dealt with
another way. But the industry has resisted the administration's
proposals for common-sense regulation of tobacco, and it scuttled the
legislative initiative as well. At this point, a lawsuit is the
administration's best leverage against the heavy public cost of smoking.
. . . If the department's reading of the law is wrong, it will emerge
with egg on its face soon enough. Before the federal government decides,
however, to take no action in the face of the clear public harm this
industry continues wittingly to do, it is well worth finding out
precisely what sorts of recovery the law does permit.
It is also wrong
for Congress to use the appropriations process to interfere with the
suit. . . . Congress should not put itself in the position of denying a
potentially massive recovery for the taxpayer by nickel-and-diming the
Justice Department on a major piece of litigation."