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Nation in brief

Maker punished for 'light' cigarettes

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 22, 2003

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -- A judge Friday ordered cigarettemaker Philip Morris to pay $10.1-billion for misleading smokers into believing its "light" cigarettes are less harmful than regular labels.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs hailed the ruling, but Philip Morris said it would appeal Judge Nicholas Byron's decision.

The case was the first class-action lawsuit in the nation to come to trial alleging a tobacco company committed consumer fraud in its advertising of "light" cigarettes.

The plaintiffs didn't claim that smoking made them sick. They accused Philip Morris Cos., maker of Marlboro Lights and Cambridge Lights cigarettes, of wrongly leading customers to believe the "light" brands are less harmful than regular cigarettes.

Senator says colleague could rain dance

WASHINGTON -- Utah Sen. Bob Bennett suggested a way to avoid serious forest fires in the drought-gripped West: Have the only American Indian senator do a rain dance.

During a hearing Thursday on next year's forest firefighting budget, Bennett noted the drought in much of the West and told Forest Service chief Dale Bosworth, "Aside from doing a rain dance and making it rain -- we'll assign that to Sen. Campbell -- I'm not sure what you can do."

Bennett said the comment was not meant to be offensive, and Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., the subject of the remark, said he took no offense.

Ethics panel forbids sniper book, movie

ROCKVILLE, Md. -- An ethics panel says police Chief Charles Moose can't write a book or consult for a movie based on the sniper ordeal that terrorized the Washington area in October. The Montgomery County Ethics Commission ruled Thursday that Moose may not undertake the projects because he would be profiting from the prestige of his office.

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