WINSTON-SALEM, NC—As part of the most severe federal restrictions ever placed on the tobacco industry, Congress on Monday ordered cigarette manufacturers to pay restitution to thousands of smoking victims in the amount of $800 billion in Camel Cash.
"This is no mere slap on the wrist," Dan Stone, Mississippi attorney general and chief prosecutor against the Big Three, said."These companies will have to hand out literally billions of dollars in Camel Cash, redeemable for attractive, exciting promotional gear, all at the tobacco industry's expense."
The cost of the reparations will be split evenly among all the companies named in the suit. Philip Morris will reimburse RJR by paying an equivalent value in Marlboro Miles, which the RJR board of directors may either convert to Camel Cash or exchange for its equivalent value in Benson & Hedges Bucks, tobacco manufacturer Brown & Williamson's standard unit of currency.
Anti-tobacco lobbyists are elated by the judgment. "At last the makers of deadly tobacco products are being held accountable for their actions," said Ed Young of the American Public Health Institute. "In the future, these companies will think twice before deceiving and poisoning the public. And if they do, they'd better stock up on beach towels and compasses."
Sherilyn Thomas, 20, of Hialeah, FL, whose father died of lung cancer at 47, will be paid over 40,000 Camel bucks for her family's loss. "I may have lost my father at an early age," Thomas said, "but at least I will forever know that justice was served in the form of this stylish five-pocket canvas duffel bag."
As part of a special goodwill clause in the settlement, tobacco companies will also donate over $400 million in colorful cigarette ads to Third World magazines and newspapers. The companies will also donate more than $250 million in cigarette billboards to struggling, billboard-impoverished Asian and Eastern European nations.
Smoker Randall Marsh, 44, diagnosed in May with throat cancer, is pleased that a strong message is finally being sent to the tobacco industry. "Like most smokers, I enjoy rugged, hardy outdoor activity," Marsh said. "And with my new Adventure Team tent, I can rest assured knowing I'll have camping-trip getaways to look forward to in between chemotherapy treatments."
If at any time during Marsh's cancer treatment his condition is declared incurable, he will instantly become eligible for an exclusive week's vacation at the "Club Camel" luxury resort in Phoenix. Also available to terminally ill smokers: an unprecedented 35 percent lifetime discount on cigarettes.
"We are complying fully with the government's decision in this matter," said Philip Morris CEO Ron Burks, whose company has voluntarily agreed to give the government a $75 million rebate on its controversial Newport Lights urban assault vehicle, currently being developed under contract for the military.