Vice Squad
Friday, May 06, 2005
More Good News for Big Tobacco

Lawsuits by smokers seeking damages for adverse health impacts from Big Tobacco were unsuccessful for decades. Then came the Master Settlement Agreement with the state attorneys general in 1998, and the tide seemed to shift. Suddenly individual smokers were winning in some suits, and class-action suits progressed, too. Lately, however, it seems that the 180 degree turnaround might become a 360 degree one. Today's shot-in-the-arm for the tobacco giants is a federal appeals court ruling that precludes a national class action from forming in a New York case.

Public smoking bans remain hot political issues in many localities, however. Residents of Austin, Texas, will vote tomorrow on whether to extend their smoking ban to "bars, bowling alleys, and pool halls," while recently-dormant legislation on a workplace smoking ban for Vice Squad's own hometown of Chicago is now emerging from hibernation.

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