Hill and Knowlton freed from US tobacco claims

Claims against Hill and Knowlton in the Florida Medicaid law suit against the tobacco industry, have been partially dismissed.

Claims against Hill and Knowlton in the Florida Medicaid law suit

against the tobacco industry, have been partially dismissed.



It is the first time that PR agencies have been implicated in the

growing number of state legal cases against tobacco companies in the

US.



Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Harold Cohen ruled that the PR agency

could not be held liable for health injuries suffered by thousands of

Medicaid patients because it had never been involved in the manufacture

or sale of cigarettes.



Hill and Knowlton dropped its last tobacco client in 1963 - the case

concerns allegations previous to this date.



The Florida case will be the first state litigation against the tobacco

firms to reach court on 4 August. H&K has been freed from liability in a

pre-trial judgement.



H&K was also named as a defendant in a similar suit filed in Oregon last

month. A total of 36 US states are now seeking damages for healthcare

spending related to illness allegedly caused by smoking.



Florida is seeking around dollars 1 billion (pounds 600 million) in

damages from the tobacco companies and plans to spend the cash on an

anti-smoking campaign targeting young people.



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