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MARYLAND 8TH STATE TO SUE TOBACCO FIRMS

Maryland became the eighth state to sue cigarettemakers for the costs of treating Medicaid patients' smoking-related illnesses, and it asked for a ban on advertising targeting minorities.

Maryland intends to prove that the tobacco industry, through deception and fraud, targeted blacks through its advertising, particularly through the use of billboards in the inner city, state Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said.The state will be represented by Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who took the case on contingency. Angelos made his fortune representing workers in asbestos-related lawsuits over the last 20 years.

The $13 billion suit filed Wednesday names 10 defendants, including Philip Morris Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., Lorillard Tobacco Co. and The American Tobacco Co. It alleges that the companies misrepresented and suppressed important information in a conspiracy to sell an unsafe product.

Philip Morris said it would "vigorously" defend itself against the lawsuit. R.J. Reynolds spokeswoman Peggy Carter said Maryland already receives compensation through cigarette taxes.