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    Arkansas Targets Tobacco Companies

    State Attorney General Mark Pryor seeks settlement payments.


    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Attorney General Mark Pryor filed lawsuits against 15 tobacco companies to force the manufacturers comply with Arkansas law, which requires certain manufacturers to place settlement money into escrow accounts.

    The amounts are based upon the number of the company's cigarettes that were sold in the state during 1999 and 2000, according to the Daily (Ark.) News.

    "These tobacco companies are not adhering to Arkansas law, so I am left with no other alternative than to sue," Pryor said in a news release. "This is a part of the continuing effort to reduce smoking in Arkansas."

    In 1999, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 1165, which requires tobacco manufacturers, which are not parties to the state's 1998 tobacco settlement, to set up "qualified escrow funds." Money placed into the escrow accounts is to be maintained there to satisfy any judgment or settlement in the event the manufacturers are successfully sued by the state in the future, the report said.

    The fifteen companies being sued are: Alternative Cigarettes Inc.; Bensen International Tobacco (USA) Inc.; Davidoff of Geneva Inc.; Drukkerij Vrijdag b.v.; Flandria Tobacco; Italian State Monopoly; Karelia Tobacco; Mohanial Hargovinddas; P.T. Bentoel Prima; Quality Tobacco Distributors Inc.; Tekel; USA Tobacco Distributing Inc.; VCT/Tobacco Specialties; Wellauer & Co.; and West Park Tobacco Inc.

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