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Public health groups, saying they lacked confidence in the government’s handling of the case, asked on Wednesday to intervene in the federal racketeering lawsuit against major tobacco companies.

Public health groups, saying they lacked confidence in the government’s handling of the case, asked on Wednesday to intervene in the federal racketeering lawsuit against major tobacco companies.

The six groups contended that prosecutors were no longer representing their interests after scaling down a proposed penalty. The filing to U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler asked for the chance to weigh in “solely on the issue of the appropriate and necessary remedies.”

The organizations asking to intervene were the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network and the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund.

“We’re no longer confident that the government is going to represent the best interests of the American people in the case,” said Paul Billings, a vice president at the American Lung Association.

Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller declined comment on the request.

William S. Ohlemeyer, vice president of Altria Group Inc., the parent company of Philip Morris, said the groups’ filing were “an inappropriate effort … to improperly inject themselves into a lawsuit to which they are not parties.”

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