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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 1996
Judge allows heart of state's tobacco case to proceed


OLYMPIA - November 19, 1996 - State Attorney General Chris Gregoire is delighted with today's King County Superior Court ruling allowing the majority of the state's lawsuit against the tobacco industry to proceed.

"The heart of our case--to protect children and hold the tobacco industry accountable for decades of public deception about their product--will now go forward," said Gregoire. "Judge Finkle has given us the green light to proceed with an action that will change the unacceptable conduct of this multi-billion dollar industry."

In June 1996, the AG's office filed a lawsuit alleging the tobacco industry violated state consumer protection and antitrust laws by illegally targeting minors, suppressing information about addiction and the health consequences of smoking, deceptively increasing the addictive potency of the nicotine in their product, and conspiring to prevent the development of safer tobacco products.

In September the tobacco companies filed a motion seeking to have the majority of the state's claims dismissed. Two of the state's common law claims were dismissed by Judge Finkle but his ruling allows the state to proceed with the major antitrust and consumer protection aspects of its case.

"The state's case could not be derailed and it is still on track despite the well-funded efforts by the big tobacco industry," said Gregoire.

The ruling allows the state to continue to seek injunctive relief to prohibit advertising specifically targeted to children, impose penalties for violating the state's consumer protection and antitrust laws, and collect hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for health and medical costs the state has spent over the past 40 years on tobacco-related illnesses.


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