from Greg Little: Suit has no basis in fact and EDITORIAL: An unavoidable path to cutting teen smoking
[continued from Index page back]
[Provided by Tobacco Daily News Summaries]
POINT: An editorial in the USA TODAY says the federal lawsuit is a
necessary course of action for the federal government, given
that Congress failed to pass tobacco legislation last year.
editorial says that Congress should handle the tobacco issue
since it "could accomplish more for taxpayers and public health
than years of litigation could ever hope to achieve." The paper
says Congress should raise the tobacco tax by $1, use the
revenue for anti-smoking programs, and give the Food and Drug
Administration authority to regulate tobacco.
none of these reforms is realistic in today's political
climate. But winning any victory against the heavily armored
tobacco industry seemed unthinkable just a couple of years ago
-- until aggressive attorneys general decided to take up the
charge, and the industry was forced to retreat.
In the same
vein, the Justice Department's gamble might shift public
opinion enough that Congress if forced to give up its own
addiction to tobacco cash and improve public health. That would
be breath of fresh air."
COUNTERPOINT: In an Opposing View, Greg Little, assistant general counsel for
Philip Morris, said that the federal lawsuit is meritless and
"We do not believe that this kind of
politically motivated lawsuit is in anyone's interest. We will
mount a vigorous defense, we will not settle, and we expect to
win. . . . The essence of this lawsuit is that the federal
government was unaware of the health risks of smoking. Ask
yourself whether that claim is credible in light of the fact
that there have been 35 surgeon general's reports since 1964
warning the public of smoking risks, and, since 1966, every pack
of cigarettes sold carries a federally mandated health warning.
Now, for the federal government to say it has been misled by
anything the industry did has no credibility. For decades, the
government has been involved in virtually every aspect of the
tobacco industry and collected tens of billions of dollars in
taxes on cigarette sales. This lawsuit is the product of
politics: It has no basis in fact or law."