THE $300 BILLION QUESTION

HOW MUCH CAN TOBACCO COMPANIES REALLY AFFORD?

When is $300 billion not a lot of money? It would make every resident of Buffalo, N.Y., an instant millionaire. It equals 40 years of profit for Exxon. But if it comes from the tobacco industry, well, for a growing number of folks $300 billion is a sum to sniff at. This is the nightmare that proponents of a sweeping congressional tobacco settlement most feared: a greedfest from plaintiffs' lawyers and the public now that tobacco executives have come to the bargaining table. Consider the state of Missouri, which so far has steered clear of the tobacco suits. "I expect us...

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