Cancer doctor blocks Pennsylvania tobacco deal
A Philadelphia doctor is blocking Pennsylvania's settlement with tobacco companies that could provide $11 billion for cancer research and anti-smoking programs, because he fears tobacco companies will be protected from future lawsuits.
The settlement agreement, reached last year among 46 states and the major tobacco companies, "basically gives carte blanche immunity to the tobacco industry for all class action lawsuits,'' Dr. Robert Sklaroff said in an interview.
State officials are frustrated at Sklaroff's success so far in blocking Pennsylvania's effort to finalize its share of the $206 billion nationwide tobacco pact. They also contend Sklaroff's fears that the settlement would foreclose future lawsuits were baseless.
The irony of a cancer specialist fighting a deal that could provide billions for research, anti-smoking campaigns and health insurance is not lost on Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher.
"There are 12 million Pennsylvanians and one guy is holding up $11.3 billion -- and that guy is a doctor,'' Sean Connolly, a spokesman for Fisher, said in a telephone interview.