Tobacco's Gains Go Up In Smoke

JUST WHEN THE CIGARETTE INDUSTRY LOOKED as if it might be retaking control of the debate over national tobacco legislation, a Florida jury delivered a blow that could change the industry's fate. A Jacksonville (Fla.) jury on June 10 ordered Brown & Williamson to pay damages of $1 million, including the first punitive damage award levied against the industry, to the estate of Roland Maddox, a Jacksonville man who smoked two packs a day until his death in 1997. Analysts say the verdict likely will harden the resolve of Big Tobacco's critics in Congress who are pushing for tough reform legislation. The verdict might revive a bill sponsored by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), the toughest alternative being considered. Cigarette stocks fell nearly 4% immediately after the verdict.

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