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Tobacco firms to post papers

Four tobacco companies say they will post millions of pages of documents on the Net related to the industry's proposed global legal settlement.

Four tobacco companies said today they will post "tens of millions" of pages of documents on the Net related to the industry's proposed global legal settlement negotiated last spring, but they will not include material such as "highly sensitive" trade secret information.

The companies posting the documents are Philip Morris Incorporated, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation, and Lorillard Tobacco Company.

It marks another example of turning to the Net to post internal documents, not just from industry but also from government. In this case, the tobacco companies have set up a "Tobacco Resolution" Web page. As of today, it read "Under construction. Please check back soon." The first installment of the papers will be posted February 27, according to the companies.

"Under the proposed resolution agreement reached June 20, an industry-funded repository would be established to allow public viewing of industry documents," the group said in a statement.

The documents cover the "vast majority" of those chosen by Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III for use in his lawsuit against the industry. They cover smoking and health issues from scientific and marketing research reports, memoranda, executive correspondence, handwritten notes, and other materials, the companies said.

Videotapes, "oversized documents," or those that contain personnel information will be excluded.

As reported, the lawsuit claims the industry concealed the dangers of smoking, a charge the industry denies. The proposed settlement must be approved by Congress and faces opposition from antismoking groups.