The tobacco industry will face its biggest legal challenge yet next month, when it will finally appear in the dock to fight a $280bn claim from the US Government for deceiving the public over the health risks of smoking for more than 50 years.
It is the largest suit ever launched by the Department of Justice and promises to reveal whether scientific research on nicotine was withheld, destroyed and ignored by a number of companies in a conspiracy designed to keep "profits above the public health", dating back to 1954. . . .
[T]hese giant corporations stand accused of conspiring to wilfully mislead the public over the health dangers of smoking in a pact that began in January 1954. The US Department of Justice claims that a group of chief executives met at the Plaza Hotel in New York to agree a "long-term public relations campaign based on fraud and deception". It is claiming $280bn from the past profits of these companies on racketeering charges, making it the largest case of its kind in history.