there is now 50-years of experience in the united states litigating against the tobacco industry. as the base of evidence regarding health effects has evolved and new legal strategies have emerged, successive waves of litigation have occurred. the many failures by the first and second waves were followed by some notable successes in the third. litigation by flight attendants and the states led to substantial settlements and some beneficial consequences for tobacco control. one of the most significant consequences of state litigation was access to the industry's documents, gained through the minnesota settlement. these documents further empowered the tobacco control movement and strengthened the basis for legal action. the continuing litigation in the united states remains a threat to the industry, in spite of the mixed outcomes of recent cases.