August 17, 2006

Tobacco firms held liable in US racketeering case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - (Reuters) - A federal judge on
Thursday ruled that cigarette makers were liable for a
decades-long conspiracy to hide the dangers of smoking.

But the judge declined to impose major monetary penalties
on tobacco companies, such as funding a large anti-smoking
campaign, as the government had sought.

Targeted in the 1999 lawsuit were Altria Group Inc. and its
Philip Morris USA unit; Loews Corp.'s Lorillard Tobacco unit,
which has a tracking stock, Carolina Group; Vector Group Ltd.'s
Liggett Group; Reynolds American Inc.'s R.J. Reynolds Tobacco
unit and British American Tobacco Plc unit British American
Tobacco Investments Ltd.