Texas Files $4 Billion Anti-Tobacco Suit

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AUSTIN, TEXAS: Texas became the latest state to file suit against the tobacco industry in order to reclaim Medicaid costs. The state is seeking $4 billion, the estimated total expense to Texas taxpayers for smoking related Medicaid claims since 1980. The suit, filed in a Texarkana federal court, also aims to curb tobacco advertisements that the state claims are targeted at children. The lawsuit is the first government action to claim the tobacco industry has violated federal mail and wire fraud statutes, as well as racketeering and conspiracy laws. Eight tobacco firms are named in the suit, including industry leaders R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris, along with public relations firm Hill & Knowlton, the Council For Tobacco Research - USA. and the Tobacco Institute. Philip Morris issued a statement saying it believes the state will lose after spending millions of taxpayer dollars and that Texas taxpayers should also be "deeply disappointed" by the waste of money and time, the company added. In filing suit, the Texas Attorney General may have been encouraged by the Ligget Group's historic settlement of a similar anti-tobacco class action suit earlier this month.