Attorney General: Tobacco Company Turns State's Evidence; Admits That Industry Targeted Kids for Tobacco Sales

Connecticut Attorney General's Office

News Release

Tobacco Company Turns State's Evidence; Admits That Industry Targeted Kids for Tobacco Sales

March 20, 1997

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today announced an agreement with a tobacco company that is "historic and precedent setting" in obtaining critical admissions and highly significant evidence to support the state's lawsuit against the tobacco industry.

"Never before has any tobacco company or member of the industry acknowledged that cigarettes cause cancer, nicotine is addictive and the industry targets its marketing to children and suppresses its own knowledge about how harmful its products are," Blumenthal said.

"Liggett has now made those admissions, and will give us critical evidence -- documents and cooperating witnesses -- to prove our case against the other defendants," Blumenthal said.

"The warning label alone is a historic step," Blumenthal said. "A predominant purpose of our lawsuit is to compel the tobacco industry to come clean with the American public and tell the truth about its lethal products. Today's agreement immeasurably advances that cause."

The agreement requires the Liggett Group to start complying with new federal regulations regarding tobacco products -- even though the industry is challenging them in court -- and to give Blumenthal documents as soon as possible.

"These documents will help lift the tobacco industry's smokescreen that has existed for decades to more quickly advance our fight to hold the tobacco industry responsible for its decades of illegal actions," Blumenthal said.

With the agreement, Liggett becomes the first tobacco company in history to:

  • Admit that smoking causes diseases, including lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema.
  • Admit that nicotine is addictive.
  • Admit that the tobacco industry markets to children.
  • Agree to include a prominent warning on its cigarette packages and advertising that "Smoking is Addictive."
  • Agree not to use marketing and advertising that appeals to children or adolescents.

Blumenthal and 21 other state attorneys general negotiated the agreement with Liggett, which holds about a 2 percent share of the United States cigarette market. Blumenthal said that Liggett, which a year ago agreed to a less-expansive settlement with five states, is not a major player in the tobacco industry today, but has always been privy to the industry's actions.

The suit was filed on July 18 against Liggett, based in Durham, N.C.; Philip Morris Inc. of New York; R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. of Winston-Salem, N.C.; Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. of Louisville, Ky.; British American Tobacco Company Ltd. of Middlesex, England; Lorillard Tobacco Co. of New York; and the United States Tobacco Co., Greenwich, Conn.

Connecticut was the 10th state to file suit against the industry. A total of 22 attorneys general have filed lawsuits.

Connecticut's lawsuit claims that tobacco companies hook children into tobacco use through targeted advertising and promotions, and manipulate nicotine levels to create and maintain addiction to their products. The suit also claims that the tobacco industry has conspired to wage an aggressive campaign to create public doubt that smoking causes diseases and premature death when for decades internal tobacco company research has shown that nicotine is addictive and that tobacco use causes disease and death.

Blumenthal said the agreement with Liggett was the culmination of months of negotiations among attorneys general to secure Liggett's cooperation against the bigger, more profitable tobacco companies. In addition to its cooperation and unprecedented admissions, Liggett, which makes L&M, Chesterfield and a variety of generic cigarettes, agrees to pay 25 percent of its annual pre-tax income for the next 25 years.