Cigarette makers are exploiting loopholes in their state lawsuit settlements to get around restrictions on advertisiting, a doctor testified Thursday for sick Florida smokers seeking punitive damages against the industry.
Dr. Ronald Davis flipped through magazine ads and offered store sweepstakes pamphlets as examples of cigarette promotions. He said effective anti-smoking ads are underfunded compared with smoking spots.
Smokers' attorney Stanley Rosenblatt is attacking an industry theme that it has changed its ways and shouldn't be punished in a suit by an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 smokers.
The lawsuit seeks $100 billion in punitive damages. The jury already has ruled against the industry and awarded $12.7 million in compensatory damages to three representative smokers.
The tobacco settlements, worth $254 billion, banned outdoor advertising and youth marketing, but two studies released this month indicate an increase in cigarette advertising in magazines with high teen readership.
"When you don't close off all tobacco advertising and promotion, there are loopholes involved,'' said Davis, who has helped prepare reports on smoking by the surgeon general. "Where there's a loophole, they find it and that's where they send their marketing dollars.''
Davis said the industry's anti-smoking program is weak. He said only five to 10 states are advertising the messages at an effective level, based on estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Court will be in recess Friday through Monday for the Memorial Day weekend.
The defendants are Philip Morris Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Brown & Williamson, Lorillard Tobacco Co., Liggett Group Inc. and the industry's defunct Council for Tobacco Research and Tobacco Institute.
CATHERINE WILSON, AP Business Writer, May 25, 2000, (AP) via NewsEdge Corporation
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