Michael Szymanczyk, ceo of US tobacco giant Philip Morris has been giving evidence in a civil racketeering trial which charges that major cigarette manufacturers conspired to lie about the dangers of smoking over many years.

Szymaczyk, however, assured the Washington DC court that his company has transformed its marketing in recent years - at the same time acknowledging that tobacco smoke creates health hazards.

The lawsuit, brought by the government in 1999, is aimed not only at at Philip Morris but other major tobacco manufacturers including Loews' Lorillard Tobacco, Vector Group's Liggett Group and Reynolds American's R J Reynolds Tobacco.

The companies deny the allegations and argue they have changed their ways as part of a 1998 settlement which clamped down on cigarette marketing.

The judge was not impressed with Szymancyk's 225-page written testimony, describing it as "self-serving" while a lawyer for the government cited the forty or so alleged violations of the 1998 settlement by Philip Morris. Szymancyk says these have been resolved informally.

It is widely expected the tobacco companies will agree to further marketing restrictions to settle the lawsuit, since a federal appeal court dismissed the possibility of a $280 billion (€215bn, £148bn) penalty against them.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff