The attorney general of Massachusetts accused cigarette makers of stalling and pulled out of talks with tobacco industry officials and eight other states trying to negotiate an out-of-court settlement.
In a statement released Sunday, Attorney General Scott Harshbarger said he would refocus his efforts on the state's pending civil suit.He also criticized the industry's opposition to disclosing cigarette ingredients and its decision to run advertisements designed to sway public opinion against additional tobacco-related taxes.
"Unless Big Tobacco shows me they are willing to take more responsibility for protecting our children and improving public health, I am not interested in returning to negotiations with them," Harshbarger said.
His spokesman, Ed Cafasso, said the attorney general also was upset that the industry has refused to drop its opposition to being regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Massachusetts stands to win up to $8 billion through the courts, Cafasso said. Massachusetts wants tobacco companies to pay the state Medicare expenses of patients who smoke.
Industry spokesman Scott Williams called the withdrawal counterproductive and said tobacco companies are fighting FDA regulation to avoid being completely shut down.
He also argued that the ingredients that go into making cigarettes are trade secrets that shouldn't be subject to public disclosure.
Further, tobacco companies are standing by their previous offer to pay billions in exchange for broad liability protection, Williams said. So far, that protection hasn't been forthcoming from the government.