Tobacco company halts free samples

The Associated Press
Friday October 18, 2002


SACRAMENTO — The maker of Skoal, Copenhagen and Rooster brand smokeless tobacco has agreed not to hand out free samples on public grounds in California, and to reimburse the state $171,000. 

U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. was giving away the samples in public areas where minors are allowed, a violation of state law, Attorney General Bill Lockyer alleged in a civil lawsuit. 

The company denies the allegations in its settlement, saying it gave away about 1,400 samples at two adults-only events it believed were in compliance with state law. Both sides said they settled to avoid the cost and delay of litigation. 

It’s the third such suit, and the third such resolution. 

In June, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. was fined $14.8 million in Los Angeles County for giving away more than 100,000 free packs of cigarettes at fairs and other public events. In July 2001, Swedish Match North America Inc. settled a suit by paying the state $375,000. 

In the pending settlement, the company agreed to a permanent injunction, and to pay $150,000 toward prevention programs. The balance of $21,000 will go to reimburse the state for its investigation.