A Massachusetts Democratic congressman said Wednesday he is confident the Justice Department will consider his request for a criminal investigation into the tobacco industry.

Rep. Martin Meehan said he has given Attorney General Janet Reno evidence of a criminal coverup by the tobacco industry, and said the industry should be held accountable for selling products it knows addicts and kills.Tobacco companies "should not be allowed to get away with many of the lies they've been telling about their products," Meehan said as he urged a federal grand jury investigation into a possible 40-year criminal conspiracy by the tobacco industry.

"They've been selling a product that they have known for many years addicts and kills, and they've been covering it up," Meehan said.

Meehan presented a 107-page memo to Reno on Tuesday outlining what he said was evidence that proves that tobacco company executives may have been involved in conspiracy, racketeering, perjury, mail fraud, false advertising and deception.

"This memo for the first time brings together in one document a tremendous amount of information about the tobacco industry's conduct, with every source identified," Meehan said.

As Republicans friendly to the tobacco industry are poised to take over key congressional committees next month, Meehan said he wants the debate over tobacco moved from Congress into the criminal courts.

Last May, Meehan and some other House members asked the Justice Department to open a preliminary inquiry into possible criminal wrongdoing by the tobacco industry.

Congress and the Food and Drug Administration are investigating whether the FDA should regulate nicotine as a drug and whether tobacco firms manipulated nicotine in their products to addict smokers.