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April 12, 1995

Spate of Lawsuits May Finally Find Chink in Tobacco Industry's 'Impenetrable Armor'

JAMA. 1995;273(14):1080-1081. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520380016007

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Abstract

RIGHT ABOUT NOW, leaders of the tobacco industry may be feeling a bit like the Egyptians of Exodus, wondering what plague will befall them next.

Last year was full of public relations disasters—including the widely publicized testimony the industry's top leaders gave under oath before Congress in which they claimed not to believe smoking is addictive or causes any illness. Although the tobacco industry has been buoyed by the Republican Party's assumption of power in Congress—with the promise that similar embarrassment will not recur—it now faces a new plague of state and federal lawsuits and adverse court rulings that tobacco control proponents say may finally open a chink in the armor that for decades has protected it from liability for millions of smoking-related illnesses and deaths.

The tobacco industry boasts that it never had to pay out a dime in any of the hundreds of lawsuits brought against it by

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