Big Tobacco’s payouts squandered from prevention standpoint
The major U.S. tobacco companies settled litigation with the states on November 23, 1998, in what is known as the Master Settlement Agreement, which requires the tobacco companies to pay out annually in perpetuity.
Those funds have been paid out annually, basically as cash windfalls that were supposed to bankroll tobacco control and cancer research programs.
However, nearly all states have diverted the money to their general funds, with their anti-tobacco programs underfunded and neglected. Only one state — Oklahoma — met the CDC-recommended levels of tobacco control program funding in 2018, according to the American Lung Association’s (ALA) annual “State of Tobacco Control” report.
That report for fiscal year 2018 showed that less than 3% of the Master Settlement funds went to such programs. “A couple of states have even in the past used it to benefit the tobacco industry,” the ALA noted in a press release marking the 20-year anniversary. North Carolina, for example, used 75% of the funds for tobacco production.
“The reality is that for decades the tobacco industry lied about their addictive and deadly products, hooking kids and adults alike for life,” ALA president Harold Wimmer said in the press release. “The settlement funds have the potential to serve as a lifeline for the millions of Americans now living with a tobacco-related disease, and it’s really up to the will of our representatives to do the right thing and implement and fully fund proven tobacco control programs.”
And a new generation of nicotine addicts appears to be on the rise with millions of teens now using electronic cigarettes. The FDA is just starting to get a regulatory handle on vaping, with a recently announced plan to ban most flavored vaping liquids and, over the next few years, conventional menthol cigarettes too.
MedPage Today – Crystal Phend – November 24, 2018.