Judge Orders R.J. Reynolds To Keep Paying Florida Millions

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A judge in Florida is ordering R.J. Reynolds to continue paying the state millions of dollars in tobacco settlement money despite selling off major brands.

Circuit Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen in Palm Beach County issued his ruling Wednesday, nearly a year after Attorney General Pam Bondi sued the tobacco company and Imperial Tobacco Group.

R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies were part of a landmark multibillion-dollar settlement with Florida to compensate the state for treating sick smokers. But the company sold cigarette brands Kool, Winston, Salem and Maverick to Imperial Tobacco Group in 2015 and neither company continued to make payments to the state.

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When Bondi filed the suit last January, she said Florida was already owed $45 million and could lose $30 million a year going forward.

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