Tobacco litigation in the US has generated staggeringly large headline damages awards in state healthcare cost recoupment, individual and class litigation.1 However, this phenomenon was due to the convergence of a unique set of circumstances in the US and is unlikely to be replicated in the UK or elsewhere with the potential exception of Canada.2 Moreover, even in the US litigation cannot provide the fundamental answer to the tobacco problem. Tobacco as a product per se remains immune from extinction by litigation even in the US. In fact product liability litigation in individual cases has provoked larger headlines than actual awards. A handful of individuals have received compensation, but often far less than the awards of ‘runaway juries’ and normally after many years of appeals. Recoveries by states have been significant, but the monetary awards have been manageable and even tailored to be so. The main impact of litigation by the states and federal government has been to enable the legal system to address tobacco regulatory issues that the US political process had been unable to tackle. Whether the results would have been better if the regulatory option had been pursued is a hotly debated topic. Litigation did, however, generate a lot of information through disclosure that has been useful to lawyers and the public health community.