$100 Million Tobacco Settlement
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the three largest tobacco companies in the U.S. recently agreed to a $100 million settlement. Both Altria Group Inc. and Reynolds American Inc. will pay $42.5 million, while Lorillard Inc. will pay $15 million. The settlement will “resolve about 400 cases involving smokers” in federal lawsuits.
How does this agreement compare to other tobacco settlements in recent years? According to the article, it is “far less than the more than $500 million the industry has had to pay plaintiffs in federal and state cases in Florida over the past decade.” The settlement has also not put an end to future settlements from tobacco companies. Indeed, more than 3,000 cases are still pending in state courts, which “are potentially more damaging.”
When it comes to state courts, tobacco companies have ended up losing more cases and paying more money. According to an analyst for Morgan Stanley research, statistics from lawsuits filed in state courts show that tobacco companies have only won 40 percent of the cases, and they have ended up paying on average approximately $4.5 million a case.
What was the basis for the federal lawsuits that recently settled? The “Engle lawsuits,” as they were known colloquially, “charged several big tobacco companies with misleading consumers.” The settlement suggests that tobacco companies owe certain information and clarity to consumers and these class action lawsuits have provided persons injured by tobacco with significant damage awards.
Facts About Tobacco and Your Health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is “the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.” Using tobacco causes hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Indeed, cigarette smoking alone kills nearly 500,000 Americans annually.
Some other important facts to know about smoking include the following:
- Smoking cigarettes causes approximately 90 percent of all lung cancer fatalities in America.
- Indeed, “more women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.”
- Cigarette smoking has been linked to deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In fact, approximately 80 percent of all COPD deaths result from tobacco use.
- Using cigarettes increases the risk for coronary heart disease anywhere from 2 to 4 times.
- Cigarette smoking increases the risk of having a stroke by 2 to 4 times.
For both men and women, smoking increases the likelihood of developing lung cancer by at least 25 times.
- Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to suffer from cardiovascular disease.
- In addition to COPD and lung cancer, tobacco use can also increase the risk of other respiratory diseases, including asthma.
- Smoking greatly increases the risk of cancer “almost anywhere in your body.” Furthermore, tobacco use has been linked to the following types of cancers: bladder, blood, cervical, colorectal, esophageal, kidney, larynx, liver, oropharynx (including the throat, tongue, soft palate, and tonsils), pancreas, stomach, trachea, bronchus, and lung.
- The CDC predicts that, “if nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States would not happen.”
In addition to the health of persons who elect to use tobacco, the CDC also emphasizes that smoking can increase the risk of birth defects and other fetal injuries, including but not limited to:
- Preterm delivery;
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS);
- Ectopic pregnancy; and
- Orofacial clefts.
If you or a loved one has developed cancer or another serious condition in connection with tobacco use, it is important to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer about your situation. You may be eligible to file a claim for financial compensation.