Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco today unveiled details of an historic, $200 billion proposed settlement with the nation’s tobacco companies -- the culmination of his nearly three-year effort to hold big tobacco accountable for the health impacts of smoking.
The plan -- the largest legal settlement in history -- is worth more than $24 billion to New York taxpayers, who along with Californians will receive the largest share of annual cash payments designed to reimburse taxpayers for past medical costs of treating smoking-related illness.
One half of the state funds will be distributed to localities, who foot a portion of state Medicaid costs.
Additionally, the settlement includes the most comprehensive plan to stop teen smoking, including an ambitious $1.45 billion anti-smoking public education campaign and additional funding for enforcement of teen anti-smoking laws.
"The sweeping anti-smoking initiatives and cash payments included in this settlement accomplishes my dual goals -- first set out early in 1996 -- of protecting the health of New York’s children and holding accountable the tobacco industry for its decades of lies about the impact of smoking on health," Attorney General Vacco said.
"The public health provisions of this settlement -- designed to protect the health of future generations, as well as help current smokers quit -- go beyond anything that ever before was accomplished legislatively or could be achieved through litigation," Attorney General Vacco said.
The overall focus of the plan -- including cash reimbursement to governments and an aggressive, industry-funded effort against teen smoking -- mirror closely a proposal first advanced by Attorney General Vacco in 1996.
Attorney General Vacco filed suit against the industry just months later, setting the stage for the industry’s toughest legal challenge, and has been among a select group of leading Attorneys General who crafted two national settlement plans -- including the latest version.
But his efforts against teen smoking have not been limited to his landmark lawsuit. Attorney General Vacco also has led New York’s effort to combat teen smoking by:
"For nearly three years, my strategy has been to craft a plan that not only combats teen consumption, but also provides much-needed relief for taxpayers," Attorney General Vacco said.
"This new national plan incorporates all of those ideas to help stop teen smoking that I first embraced in 1996, and extends their benefits to children and taxpayers in all 50 states," Attorney General Vacco said.
In addition to the financial payments to the states, the 140-page proposed settlement agreement also includes:
In addition, the industry agreed not to oppose additional state and local legislative efforts that are further aimed at discouraging smoking by teens.
The proposal makes no provision to shield tobacco companies from future lawsuits by citizens or government, and the plan will not preempt tougher local regulations.
The settlement also includes claims by New York City and Erie County, as well as all other counties.
"The terms of this agreement are the culmination of months of hard-nosed negotiation and represent the most significant reform to our nation’s tobacco policy in history," Attorney General Vacco said.
"As a result, millions of children who are not yet smokers will be spared horrific disease and suffering, and millions of current smokers will get a real chance to quit and reclaim their good health," Attorney General Vacco said.
In addition to Attorney General Vacco, the plan was negotiated by the Attorneys General of Washington, California, Pennsylvania, Colorado, North Dakota, Oklahoma and North Carolina.
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