The Government’s lawsuit against the tobacco industry goes to court this week after five years of pre-trial activity, according to media reports.

The $280bn case alleges that the tobacco companies defrauded and mislead the American public for 50 years about the health risks associated with smoking cigarettes.

The case has already cost taxpayers $135m, in addition to vast industry legal fees.

The tobacco-related companies placed as lawsuit defendants include Philip Morris USA and its parent, Altria Group, RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Brown & Williamson Tobacco, British American Tobacco, Lorillard Tobacco, Liggett Group, Counsel for Tobacco Research-USA, and the Tobacco Institute.