Tobacco Co. Notes Prevention Efforts
MIAMI (AP) - Brown & Williamson highlighted its youth smoking prevention efforts Tuesday for the jury being asked by sick Florida smokers to impose potentially crushing punitive damages on the tobacco industry.
The maker of Kool, Carlton and Lucky Strike has budgeted $3.7 million this year to its prevention department run by Theresa Burch, who testified about some of the programs funded by the company.
``I don't want anybody's kids to smoke,'' Burch said. ``We want to make sure that the number of kids who are smoking is zero.''
The six-member 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.
It is the first smokers' class-action lawsuit to go to trial and poses the greatest financial risk to the industry since it settled the state lawsuits for $254 billion in 1997 and 1998.
The industry wants the jury to impose no punishment, arguing that the state settlements are enough and that it has changed its ways.
Burch testified that Brown & Williamson has earmarked $172 million for youth anti-smoking programs in payments to the states and is trying to stop children as young as 2 from smoking.
Jurors saw a videotape of Fishbone Fred, a children's entertainer who sings an anti-smoking song on a tour sponsored by Brown & Williamson. She also said the company has distributed 50,000 copies of an anti-smoking book titled ``Sly's Unwise Surprise'' for preschoolers.
Still, Burch estimated, 86,000 underage smokers use Brown & Williamson brands.
Witnesses for smokers have testified the industry's annual budget for advertising and promotion totals $6 billion.