AMERICAN SAMOA TO RECEIVE U.S. TOBACCO COMPENSATION PAYMENTS

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (December 23, 1998 - PACNEWS)---The American Samoa government is finalizing the terms of a legal settlement with major American tobacco companies to begin receiving pay-outs of up to US$ 29 million for tobacco related health ailments.

This is part of the unprecedented multi-million dollar settlement reached recently between eight U.S. states and several major cigarette companies.

Attorney General Toetagata Albert Mailo denied a news report in the local media stating that the government had filed a separate lawsuit against the tobacco companies.

The Attorney General was quoted by the Samoa News as saying the government was not taking such an option but had decided to stick with the initial court settlement which would require cigarette companies to fund a 1.5 billion dollar anti smoking campaign, curb tobacco advertising and marketing, open previously secret industry documents and disband industry trade groups.

Under the court settlement, cigarette producers will pay a total of 206 billion dollars between 1999 and the year 2025 to states and territories which sign the court settlement.

The American Samoan government is trying to negotiate a one-time payment of the whole amount due to American Samoa.

States and territories that don't sign the agreement have the option to sue the cigarette producers on their own and take their chances in court.

Meanwhile, importers have increased the wholesale price of cigarettes, forcing retail shops to sell a pack of cigarettes that previously cost $2.75 to $4.00.

According to local importers, U.S. companies have increased their prices to pay for the court settlement and this is why they are forced to raise the selling price of a pack of cigarettes.

ATTORNEY GENERAL SAYS SEPARATE SUIT FILED AGAINST TOBACCO COMPANIES

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (December 22, 1998 - Samoa News)---To protect the interest of the American Samoa Government (ASG), ASG has filed its own suit against the tobacco industry, stated Attorney General (AG) Toetagata Albert Mailo.

Toetagata's statement of clarification was prompted by a source who told Samoa News last week that ASG had filed its own separate suit against the tobacco companies, along with the national settlement as reported earlier.

Although ASG has joined the national tobacco settlement as stated earlier, Toetagata explained that ASG filling its own suit against the tobacco industry was done to protect the interests of the local government.

"We joined the national tobacco settlement. But we did also file a suite in Chicago," Toetagata explained yesterday morning. "But this suit is to protect our interest, a precautionary measure."

Toetagata's statement was confirmed in a memo from the law firm of Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth in Chicago, which is representing ASG against the tobacco industry.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

 

ASG FINALIZING DETAILS FOR NATIONAL TOBACCO SUIT

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (December 21, 1998 - Samoa News)---The American Samoa Government (ASG) is finalizing details of the national tobacco suit that would bring the Territory approximately US$ 29 million.

Attorney General Toetagata Albert Mailo confirmed on Friday that American Samoa has signed on to join 46 other states and territories in the suit that was initiated by Attorneys General from eight states and announced November 23.

Public Relations official Valarie Kilhenney for Philip Morris Corp. -- the lead company in the national tobacco suit -- told Samoa News in a telephone interview from the company's headquarters in New York that American Samoa did join the settlement, but declined to comment further on the matter until all details are set.

Toetagata said that there are several things that need to be completed and Deputy AG Elvis Patea is working on the details. "To be realistic, we are looking at the first payment to come in by the year 2000," explained Toetagata.

"But we will try and see if they can do something earlier; but we're not sure," he pointed out.

When asked if ASG is still seeking a lump sum payment he said, "We are trying to get a lump sum, but its very difficult because of the settlement formula that has been set," replied Toetagata in a telephone interview late Friday afternoon.

According to the settlement formula, American Samoa is expected to collect approximately $29 million over the next 25 years, with the first payment of $165,208 for the year 1998.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

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