Cigarette maker takes Arkansas to court

(June 17, 2004) - (Louisville, Kentucky-AP) -- A Kentucky cigarette maker is taking attorneys general to court in five states, including Arkansas. Commonwealth Brands claims the states failed to enforce laws requiring manufacturers not participating in the national tobacco settlement to put money in escrow. It says that has allowed many of its competitors to dodge the bill for treating sick smokers. Companies that joined in the settlement say the "nonparticipating manufacturers" are undercutting them on price. Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe's spokesman, Matt DeCample, says the law has been diligently enforced. Beebe sued four companies last month for failing to meet payment requirements, DeCample said. Commonwealth said the master settlement imposes penalties on states that fail to "diligently enforce" laws against nonparticipating independents.