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Master Settlement Agreement

On November 23, 1998, 11 tobacco companies executed a legal settlement, called the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement (MTSA) with the attorneys general of 46 states, the District of Columbia, and five commonwealths and territories.

The plaintiffs sued the tobacco industry to recover Medicaid costs for the care of persons injured by tobacco use. The suit alleged that the companies had violated antitrust and consumer protection laws, had conspired to withhold information about adverse health effects of tobacco, had manipulated nicotine levels to maintain smoking addiction, and had conspired to withhold lower-risk products from the market.

In the settlement, the companies agreed to pay states $246 billion over 25 years. Illinois will receive more than $9.1 billion from the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement through the year 2025. Illinois’s payout is the fifth largest from MTSA, after California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, respectively. The following table includes the 10 highest payment totals among participating states.

Annual MTSA Payments
to States through 2025
California $25,006,972,511
New York $25,003,202,243
Pennsylvania $11,259,169,603
Ohio $9,869,422,449
Illinois $9,118,539,559
Michigan $8,526,278,034
Massachusetts $7,913,114,213
New Jersey $7,576,167,918
Georgia $4,808,740,669
Tennessee $4,782,168,127

The MTSA also contained a number of important public health provisions. The agreement placed significant marketing restrictions on the tobacco industry by prohibiting direct advertising and promotion aimed at young people, by limiting brand name sponsorship at events that might be frequented by youth, by requiring the removal of street advertising without restrictions on counter-marketing, by placing substantial restrictions on lobbying and on the suppression of research findings, and by requiring major contributions from the tobacco industry to cessation and prevention activities. In addition, the agreement dealt with such issues as legal fees, court supervision, civil liabilities restrictions, and public disclosure. The 1998 settlement contained no provisions regarding federal Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products.

State settlement funds are being spent on smoking cessation programs, health care, education, programs benefitting children and other programs tailored to states' individual needs. In FY2001, 35 states appropriated $614.9 million from the settlement agreement specifically for tobacco prevention and control purposes.

For more information on the MTSA, visit <www.naag.org>.

Internal Tobacco Industry Documents
As part of the tobacco litigation in a number of states, the tobacco industry was forced to disclose millions of pages of internal documents, many of which are now publicly available on the World Wide Web. These documents have provided important insight into how tobacco companies targeted consumers. Consumers, public health advocates and others can search these documents to locate and analyze this revealing information in order to make decisions about effective tobacco prevention and control.

The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a Web site to make searching internal documents easier (www.cdc.gov/tobacco/industrydocs).

The Web site has three main searchable components:

4B Index – A compilation of indexes developed and provided by each of the tobacco companies that were defendants in the State of Minnesota vs. Philip Morris, Inc. et al. trial. The 4B Index contains objective indexing information on the 27 million pages of documents provided during litigation.

Minnesota Select Set – A subset of almost 400,000 pages of documents that were considered most relevant by the attorneys in Minnesota’s case against the tobacco industry. This component of the Web site provides text-searchable access.

Guildford-British American Tobacco Documents – A subset of the Minnesota Select Set that contains approximately 7,000 documents that Minnesota attorneys thought related best to the population of their state.

An additional on-line resource can be found at <www.tobaccodocuments.org>. This meta-site allows you to search multiple Web sites at once, as well as look at various collections of tobacco industry documents that researchers have compiled.

 

References
Reducing Tobacco Use: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2000.

 
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