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Louisiana Jury Orders Tobacco Companies to Pay $500M

NEW ORLEANS -- A jury ordered the tobacco industry to pay more than $500 million for programs to help Louisiana smokers kick the habit, reported the Associated Press.

Legal experts believe the class-action lawsuit is the first case in which a jury has found that tobacco companies should pay for such programs. Lawyers for plaintiffs had been seeking $1 billion. The verdict came in the second phase of a lengthy trial.

In July, the same jury found that cigarette makers had deceived the public with an addictive product and schemed to market cigarettes to children. It rejected calls for medical monitoring for present and former smokers, but said the industry should provide free smoking cessation programs.

The current phase was to determine how much the industry should spend on the programs and what those programs should be. A third phase, without the jury, will be used to determine how the programs are run.

The jury heard about two months of testimony and deliberated for three days before returning the verdict.
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