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Attorneys-general move welcomed

Friday 24 March, 2000

Quit has welcomed the unanimous decision of Australia's Attorneys-General to explore further the possibility of litigation against tobacco companies following their meeting in Melbourne today.

New Zealand will also join a working party to consider the viability of a joint action against tobacco companies.

Executive Director of Quit Victoria Todd Harper said today the decision is a warning to tobacco companies that they are not above the law, and should be prepared to account for their actions in court.

'Tobacco companies have fought tooth and nail to prevent the truth being revealed to the public about the harmful effects of smoking.'

'Even as recently as only two or three years ago industry chiefs were still denying the relationship between smoking and cancer, in the face of overwhelming medical evidence to the contrary.'

'It was only in 1997 that the CEO of WD and HO Wills claimed that he was not aware of any causal relationship between lung cancer, heart disease and smoking; in the same year the CEO of Philip Morris said causation between smoking and disease had not been proved by scientists.'

'Smoking is killing 13 Victorians every day, and it is time the tobacco companies were forced to account for their actions.'

'This must happen by litigation or action by Australian Parliaments to enact legislation that regulates an industry that has abrogated its obligations to Australia and caused so much death and disease.'

ends

Further information:

Zoe Furman
Media Communications Manager
Quit Victoria

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