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 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 17:58 GMT
Tobacco firm 'must pay' $1bn fine
UST factory
UST makes 'smokeless' chewing tobacco
Tobacco manufacturer UST must pay $1.05bn (654m) for breaking competition law, the US Supreme Court has ruled.

The award is the biggest in US anti-trust law history.

UST was appealing against a court ruling in 2000 that found the company had engaged in anti-competitive practices, such as getting its staff to remove the sale racks of competitors' products from stores.

The Supreme Court ruling comes as the tobacco industry is facing a series of costly lawsuits over the health implications of consuming their products.

'Smokeless tobacco'

UST makes snuff and chewing tobacco, known as "smokeless tobacco".

Smokeless tobacco is popular in the US and UST is the market leader - its brands include Skoal and Copenhagen.

The product is chewed publicly in the US, for example by baseball players who spit the residue out on ball parks throughout the land.

The original lawsuit against UST was bought by its closest rival Conwood.

Conwood accused UST of, between 1990 and 1997, committing a variety of unfair practices, such as urging shops to remove Conwood display stands from stores.

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