Tobacco documents to be more accessible

Dec. 14, 2011 at 2:30 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The two largest U.S. tobacco companies have agreed to improve public access to internal industry documents, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

The settlement with Philip Morris USA and its parent company, Atria Group, and with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. also says the two companies will pay $6.25 million into a court fund to underwrite the largest online collection of tobacco documents, the department said.

A department statement said the settlement resolves a dispute between the tobacco companies and the government about the databases the court ordered in 2006. The court had ruled the two companies and other cigarette companies had suppressed internal documents as part of a broad campaign to deceive the public about the dangers and addiction of smoking.

Because of that suppression, the court ordered the companies to provide access to all the documents the industry had to turn over in U.S. smoking lawsuits for the next 15 years. The access would come through online Web sites and a hard-copy archive, the Minnesota Depository.

The $6.25 million in the settlement goes to the University of California, San Francisco, which runs the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, legacy.library.ucsf.edu, the Justice Department said.

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