US Smokeless Tobacco, which Altria took over last year, has agreed to pay five million dollars to the family of a man who died of cancer after chewing tobacco since his youth, the firm and a family lawyer said Tuesday.
"This is the first wrongful death chewing tobacco settlement ever," lawyer Antonio Ponvert told AFP about the complaint the family filed in 2005.
AdvertisementA spokesman for Altria, the world's largest tobacco corporation -- also a parent of Philip Morris Companies -- however said it would be the firm's last.
"The US Smokeless Tobacco has agreed to honor a settlement offer they made to the plaintiff in this case before the January 2009 acquisition of the UST by Altria group," said Steve Callahan.
"This was a unique circumstance where the offer was made before the acquisition and now we have no intention of settling a case such as this in the future," he said, adding that Altria instead would have to go to court.
Ponvert said that despite the clear medical evidence that nicotine is addictive and causes cancer, "the company?s position under oath was that nicotine is not addictive and smokeless (tobacco) has not been shown to cause death or disease."
"The US Surgeon General long ago determined that smokeless tobacco causes mouth cancer," added the family's lawyer. "The product contains 29 known carcinogens."
Despite anti-smoking campaigns, chewing tobacco is still used and is especially prevalent among baseball players, many of whom can be seen chewing and spitting during the long matches.