August 16, 1999
Attorny General Patricia Madrid
attn: Mr. Glenn Smith
Office of the Attorney General of New Mexico
P.O. Box Drawer 1508
Santa Fe, NM 87504-1508
Dear Mr. Smith:
I thank you for your recent letter and the compliments to our organization
concerning our efforts in the battle against tobacco. I believe, as you note,
that we are doing our part as citizens. We do wish our government would do its
part as well.
When Mr. Udall made public summary details regarding the Master Settlement
Agreement (MSA) in November 1998, our organization openly opposed signing
the document along the timeline proposed by the tobacco industry. We could
see no apparent reason to "rush" into this pact. We asked only for a reasonable
amount of time to allow New Mexico's citizens and representatives the
opportunity to review the offer here and
The Attorney General's office did not hear our cry. Today, citizens must
live with an irrational agreement -- not for 25 years as is commonly misreported
in the media, but through perpetuity. By signing the MSA, the State of New Mexico
formed a cozy relationship with big tobacco.
Since November, our organization as well as individuals and organizations
across the country have studied the proposal. From the public health perspective,
there are very few reasons to support the MSA. In general, the MSA provides the
tobacco industry with privileges not generally considered as "natural rights" for
a product of this nature. Additionally, there are many negative outcomes
associated with the settlement.
First, it appears that the principle reason the various Attorneys General
signed this agreement was the lucrative financial incentive. Most analyses show
that the approximate $40 million payment we are scheduled to receive will cover
only about half the current annual Medicaid costs the State of New Mexico supports
due to tobacco related disease, illness and death. While these medical costs
will likely increase exponentially, the settlement dollars remain fixed and may
actually decrease over time. I am sure you are aware that due to anticipated
inflationary growth, the $40 million annual payment will be worth about $12 million
by the year 2025.
Although New Mexico's initial settlement installment will cover only about
49% of the annual costs to the state, payments twenty years from now will cover
only about 5% of these costs. This is not a good financial investment in
New Mexico's future.
I have posted a complete economic analysis on the CCAA Web site. These figures
adjust for inflation and demonstrate that the actual cost to the State of New Mexico
due to the provisions of the MSA will exceed $3.5 billion -- and over 75,000 lives.
You may view this work here.
Second, the citizens of New Mexico as well as our representatives do not understand
the terms of the MSA. As you remember, when I first contacted you about the Brown &
Williamson billboard violation, you were unclear whether this simple act violated
the provisions of the settlement. It makes no sense to enter an agreement with an
industry with a history of maliciously deceptive and manipulative practices without
first fully understanding the terms of the proposition.
Third, as tobacco is a regulated and controlled substance, the State of New Mexico
was not required to agree to the provisions of advertising listed in the MSA. The
State extended privileges that are not in the best interest of today's -- or
tomorrow's -- youth.
In general, most adults are now fully aware of the intensely addictive power of
nicotine, we must do everything in our power to protect children, kids and
teens from the tobacco industry's encroachment into their lives. While research
illustrates that our young citizens are aware of the negative health affects
associated with tobacco use, it also shows they underestimate the grasp of
Fourth, the MSA did not compensate the State of New Mexico for the past burdens
associated with tobacco-related costs. As New Mexico is one of the poorest
states in the union, these losses have affected citizens more greatly here. Any
financial gains should be used to repair the damage done to the state's infrastructure.
At present, many tobacco control organizations lobby to use this money to fight
the tobacco industry. Had the Attorneys General had the courage to resist big
tobacco in the first place, we would not have to now consider using these precious
resources to continue fighting the tobacco problem.
Therefore, when the State of New Mexico finds Brown & Williamson in violation
of the MSA, it is critical to demonstrate our resolve. Rather, the Attorney General's
office demonstrated that we all are "a bunch of cozy partners." We are not. Today,
the tobacco industry's history is well documented. They have consistently
manipulated and deceived the American public.
We do not agree with your decision to allow them to justify this latest
flagrant violation of the spirit of the MSA by saying there was a communication problem.
Keep in mind that during the six weeks your office allowed Brown & Williamson to
maintain their tobacco advertisement billboard, over 57,000 Americans died from
tobacco-related illnesses and disease. This number exceeds the number of U.S.
military personnel deaths for the combined Vietnam Conflict. This was not an
While we thank you for recognizing our important role in this matter, we feel
betrayed by our government. We need greater courage and resolve from your
office on this matter.
Thanks in advance for you help and interest in this matter.
Scott Goold, Director
Citizens for Clean Air in Apartments