States across the United States misuse funds that are extracted from a landmark, multi-jurisdiction legal settlement reached with tobacco companies in November of 1998.

Attorneys general for 46 states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico entered into the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).

The settlement promises the federal and state governments billions in per year restitution to fund anti-tobacco efforts and promote public health.

Michael LaFaive, a fiscal policy expert with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and Todd Nesbit, an economics professor at Ball State University, wrote in a column for The Detroit News that tobacco settlement funds are being misused in Michigan.

Both also argue that state governments, in general, often misuse tobacco settlement funds and their intended purposes.

For Inside Sources, LaFaive outlined how he sees that governments and legislature — like in Michigan — often strip funds from settlement-designated cash accounts to swell up budget imbalances for programs that aren’t even intended to support public health.

“Many states can and should do better if only elected officials would use more of their tobacco dollars to help their people quit smoking or persuade them not to start,” LaFaive said, adding that “MSA funds are essentially a tax on tobacco companies by a different name.”

Read full article here.

Michael McGrady – Inside Sources – July 16, 2020.

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