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Fund To Help Tobacco Farmers

January 21, 1999

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) _ The nation’s four largest cigarette companies agreed today to set up a $5.15 billion trust fund to help tobacco growers who face a shrinking market due to settlements of lawsuits that have sharply raised the price of smoking and stepped up anti-smoking initiatives.

The agreement climaxed two days of private meetings between company officials and representatives from 11 tobacco states. For a time, it appeared the trust fund was in jeopardy because R.J. Reynolds balked at participating. The company said a better way to help the farmers would be to buy more of their tobacco.

But during negotiations today, R.J. Reynolds relented and signed onto the trust fund, which was restructured. Previously, the four companies _ R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard _ would have paid into the fund over 10 years; the agreement extends that to 12 years.

``There are many, many details yet to be worked out,″ said Phil Carlton, the lawyer representing the tobacco companies. ``One of the concerns was one of the companies in particular had a problem with paying the money out that would have been its share in the first couple of years.″

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