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Attorney General Lockyer Announces Settlement of Free Tobacco Samples Lawsuit
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced today the settlement of a lawsuit against smokeless tobacco manufacturer, Swedish Match North America, Inc. over alleged illegal distribution of free tobacco samples on public grounds. This agreement permanently prohibits Swedish Match from giving out free samples of any tobacco products on public grounds in California and requires the company to pay $375,000 to the Public Health Institute to monitor tobacco advertising and promotions and to spread awareness on the dangers of tobacco products.
The Attorney General's lawsuit, filed in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, alleged that the tobacco manufacturer illegally distributed free samples of its smokeless tobacco products to hundreds of people last summer on public grounds at the Watsonville Speedway on the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds and at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. The Attorney General learned of Swedish Match's free sampling through a collaboration between the California Department of Health Services Tobacco Control Section, and the Attorney General's Office, which monitor California events sponsored by the tobacco industry.
The Public Health Institute is a nonprofit organization that assists the state with ongoing and emerging health issues through a variety of community and state programs. The $375,000 settlement will be distributed by the Public Health Institute, in cooperation with the California Department of Health Services, to support projects designed to counter the effects of pro-tobacco advertising and distribution on public grounds with preference given to projects in Santa Cruz County and San Luis Obispo County.
The Attorney General urges anyone aware of these activities to: call his Tobacco Complaint Line at (916) 565-6486; mail reports of suspected violations to the Tobacco Enforcement Section at P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550; or, send a message to the Tobacco Enforcement Staff by completing the form on this tobacco website at http://caag.state.ca.us/tobacco/.