Smoking gun

The latest battle in the tobacco wars broke out last week, as lawyers representing up to 1 million sick Florida smokers opened their case in a Miami court. This is the first “class action” by smokers against the tobacco industry in the US, but the plaintiffs’ lawyers have an impressive track record. Last year, they won $350 million for passive smokers. The comprehensive will keep you up to date. If you find legal fights heavy going, may provide the antidote. The website of the pressure group Action on Smoking and Health features a new interactive game called “Tobacco Explored”. Among other tasks, you are asked to predict causes of death for a group of 1000 smokers—see if you can better Netropolitan’s score of 97 “misplaced” deaths. By avoiding humourless preaching, the game makes some effective points: once you see that 78 per cent of revenues from a Briton’s lifetime cigarette consumption goes in tax, it’s clear why governments have a hard job kicking the tobacco habit. The ASH site also links to leading websites on tobacco throughout the world. Other lively sites that ASH doesn’t link to directly include, which documents anti-tobacco activism in Australia, and, run by the Arizona Program for Nicotine and Tobacco Research. Strangely, amid the welter of anti-tobacco postings, it’s hard to find the online voice of the tobacco industry. Philip Morris, the world’s biggest tobacco company, keeps a particularly low Web profile. The website of its competitor Brown and Williamson ( looks very professional, but is not as timely as those run by the anti-tobacco lobby. As New Scientist went to press, Brown and Williamson’s “courthouse” section still contained no mention of the Florida lawsuit. More on these topics:
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