‘Rapacious & predatory’ tobacco giant must be candid about litigation risks to shareholders



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Friday 01 May 1998

ASH/ Press releases/

 

102 Clifton Street,London EC2A 4HW Tel: (020) 7739 5902 Fax: (020) 7613 0531

Press release1 May 1998 ASH
Action on Smoking
and Health

“Rapacious and predatory” tobacco giant must be candid about litigation risksto shareholders

At today’s AGM, BAT is expected to avoid giving a candid assessment of the threatto its shareholders of burgeoning tobacco litigation.

“Shareholders need to know the worst case” said Clive Bates, Director of ASH.“The company’s £17.6 billion shareholder value could easily be threatened bythe excessively emollient statements issued by BAT in its annual report.”

“This time last year, they were still heaping scorn on the US Attorneys Generalcases, but on June 20 they signed up to the 368 billion dollar proposed settlement. If youlistened to BAT you would have thought the US litigation was the work of crackpots, butnow they are claiming that it could cause bankruptcy to parts of its business” saidBates.

“Shareholders need to know what will happen if there is a big loss in Minnesota,if developing countries like Guatemala become more litigious, if pregnant women and theirharmed children begin to seek damages, and everyone else draws encouragement from USlitigation and the documents released?” said Bates.

“This company is one of the most rapacious and predatory in the world. Although itmakes a lot of money, its financial viability is threatened by retribution in the courtsby the countless people that have been harmed in so many ways by its product. The troubleis BAT cannot tell its shareholders what the worst case litigation scenario couldbe.” said Bates.

Yesterday ASH released previously secret documents from 1974 showing that BAT decidedagainst warning pregnant women of the dangers of smoking.

 

ENDS

 

 

Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902
Pauline Doyle, Press Officer (020) 7739 5902 or 0171 249 2363 (hm)

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