Utah joins 16 states in tobacco lawsuit

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Utah is suing the major tobacco companies, becoming the 17th state to try to recover the millions of dollars spent on Medicaid bills for citizens suffering from smoking-related illnesses.
Minnesota is one of the 17 states.
The lawsuit filed Monday seeks to enjoin the tobacco companies, including giants R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris USA, the American Tobacco Co., Brown & Williamson and others, from targeting Utah’s children.
It also claims the companies for years intentionally hid from the public harmful and addictive qualities of nicotine.
In the past three years in Utah, health costs from tobacco-related illnesses are estimated to have exceeded $128 million, said state Department of Health attorney Doug Springmeyer.
Gregory G. Little, senior assistant general counsel for Philip Morris USA in New York, said Utah’s lawsuit is politically motivated and without merit.