Testimony Resumes in Smokers Trial
MIAMI (AP) - A singing cowboy, a storybook for preschoolers and a program called Buttkickers were described by a cigarette company executive in the industry's attempt to avoid a potentially crippling punitive damages from a jury.
All three programs are among those funded by Brown & Williamson, and were offered as evidence that the industry has changed its ways.
``I don't want anybody's kids to smoke,'' said Theresa Burch, the head of Brown & Williamson's smoking prevention department. ``We want to make sure that the number of kids who are smoking is zero.''
She estimated 86,000 underage smokers use Brown & Williamson brands, which include Kool, Carlton and Lucky Strike.
The jury already has decided the industry makes a defective, deadly product and awarded $12.7 million to three sick smokers. Now the jury is being asked to order the industry to pay multibillion-dollar punitive damages on behalf of 300,000 to 700,000 Florida smokers.
Cigarette makers have asked the jury to award no further damages, saying the $254 billion paid to settle state lawsuits in 1997 and 1998 is enough punishment and that the industry has reformed.
Burch testified Tuesday that Brown & Williamson has budgeted $3.7 million to her department. She said the company's programs target children from age 2 through high school and have reached 269,000 kids.
The company has spent $8.6 million on prevention since the program's launch in 1997, and $172 million has been earmarked for youth anti-smoking programs in company payments to states on lawsuit settlements.
Witnesses for smokers have testified the industry's annual budget for advertising and promotion totals $6 billion.
Smokers' witnesses testified earlier that the industry can raise $150 billion to $157 billion to pay a punitive award in the case. The case is the first of its kind to reach the trial stage.