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Nebraska to Sue Four Tobacco Companies

Attorney General Don Stenberg said he would sue four tobacco companies that didn't participate in the multibillion dollar settlement between 46 states and the tobacco industry in 1998.

Nebraska and 45 other states agreed to settle claims against tobacco companies for the states' costs of treating smoking-related illnesses. The companies agreed to pay the states more than $200 billion.

Nebraska expects to receive $1.2 billion over 25 years from the settlement from Philip Morris Cos., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Brown & Williamson Tobacco and Lorillard Tobacco, the Associated Press reported.

The Nebraska Legislature then passed a law requiring companies that did not take part in the settlement to place money in an escrow account each year based on the amount of tobacco products they sell in the state. The law is meant to put money aside for any future judgments against the companies.

Quality Tobacco Distributors of Florida, Low Ball Inc. of Nevada, PTI Inc. of Washington and Jash International of Illinois will be named in the suit for not complying with the law, Stenberg said. He will also seeks to block those companies from selling products in Nebraska if they don't comply.

State health officials have said smoking and related illnesses and deaths cost Nebraska at least $40 million a year. They estimate 2,400 Nebraska residents die every year from smoking, the report said.
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