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Skoal and Copenhagen: Chewing tobacco maker agrees to $5M settlement

U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. will pay $5 million to the family of a man who died of mouth cancer. He began chewing tobacco at 13 and died at age 42. The settlement is being reported as the first wrongful-death settlement won from a chewing tobacco company. Chewing tobacco manufactures largely escaped the large personal injury and wrongly death damage awards that staggered the tobacco industry a decade ago, in part, because of more conclusive evidence that cigarettes caused disease. It has always been recognized that chewing tobacco use carries significant health risks, and industry experts are predicting a flood of lawsuits in the wake of this settlement.

Spokesmen for Altria, which bought U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. last year, vowed there would be no more settlements. Interestingly, Altria is the parent of Phillip Morris USA, the nation’s largest cigarette maker.

It's being reported that U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. sent cards in the 1980s to minors thanking them for their purchases and offering free tobacco. Amazingly, the company even sent a can opener a child to assist that child with the opening of his chewing tobacco.

Chewing tobacco users who develop cancer frequently lose their tongues, and other parts of their mouths. Observers have noted it is a particularly horrific way to die.