"I wanted to protect our children from being ravaged by tobacco," said Governor Lawton Chiles. He could hardly stop smiling after today's decision, and with good reason: The companies agreed to pay Florida $11.3 billion to settle the state's lawsuit to recover the costs of caring for sick smokers. After weeks of testimony that included the admission by Philip Morris CEO Geoffrey Bible that smoking "might" be responsible for as many as 100,000 deaths, Big Tobacco has packed up and left this state. Next stop: Washington, D.C., where the $368 billion national settlement remains to be renegotiated.
MIAMI: The Marlboro Man is no more, at least not in the Sunshine State. Today's landmark agreement between Florida and the tobacco industry means that all bilboards advertising cigarettes will come down in the next six months. Each one will be replaced with an anti-smoking message — and billboards near schools will be the first to change.