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    EC Suits Dismissed

    Individual European countries could still sue big tobacco on smuggling allegations.

    A federal district judge in Brooklyn has dismissed lawsuits brought by the European Community (EC) against major tobacco manufacturers Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings and other companies.

    The suits contended that the tobacco companies hurt the European Community by knowingly being involved in massive cigarette smuggling across Europe.

    The decision by U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis was not a total victory for the cigarette companies, however. In his decision, the judge left open the possibility that individual countries could sue Big Tobacco.

    The judge found that the European Community was not harmed because it could not show that it had lost tax revenue from the alleged smuggling. The judge added: "This is not to say, of course, that the individual member states, who are ultimately responsible for funding the EC's budget, would not have been harmed by cigarette smuggling."

    The judge said he would rule later on a similar suit brought by government jurisdictions in Colombia.

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