August 20, 1999
Attorny General Patricia Madrid
Office of the Attorney General of New Mexico
P.O. Box Drawer 1508
Santa Fe, NM 87504-1508
Dear Ms. Madrid:
In November 1998, the public received news that tobacco industry representatives
presented the various state Attorneys General with a proposed settlement. The Attorneys
General sued the tobacco industry to seek reimbursement for health care costs incurred
over the last forty years that states and territories had incurred due to the affects
of smoking on human health.
The CCAA has opposed the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) since the first public
announcement. Our initial opposition focused on the limited amount of public review
time stipulated in the settlement provisions. After months of detailed examination of
the MSA, the CCAA concludes that the MSA is a horrible deal of epic proportions for
New Mexicans as well as the nation. We therefore ask that you as the Attorney General
of the great state of New Mexico rescind our commitment to participate with the provisions
of the Master Settlement Agreement.
The following paragraphs are taken from a statement issued August 19,
1999 by Matthew J. Fairshter, Esquire, of BENNETT & FAIRSHTER, P.A., 225 S.
Lake Avenue, 9th Floor, Pasadena, Calif. 91101, 626-568-1200:
"The Tobacco Companies, seeing that the Attorneys General needed a victory
after the previous rejection by Congress, did play a shell game by offering
a settlement in exchange for certain liability protections. The Tobacco
Companies, as the cigarette cartel, has had a long history of monopolizing
the cigarette market and crushing their competition."
"The Tobacco Companies
saw an opportunity to take advantage, outmaneuver, and outwit the Attorneys
General and ultimately further their monopoly in the cigarette market in
which they could continue to sell cigarettes in the United States FOREVER,
free from competition. The perpetuation of this monopoly has been the goal
of the cigarette cartel for almost one hundred years."
"What the Tobacco
Companies sought was a sweetheart deal, without letting the Attorneys General
know what was going on. The Tobacco Companies succeeded in their game and
the Attorneys General are now refusing to recognize the harm they are now
causing to both the American marketplace and consumers."
"Because the Tobacco Companies and the Attorneys General were frustrated
by the actions of the United States Congress, and in direct confrontation t
o the rule of law, the Attorneys General sold out the sovereignty of their
States and their high office to the Tobacco Companies' cigarette cartel
in exchange for a minuscule (less then 2% of the Tobacco Companies total
revenue) share of the cigarette cartel's profits."
"Although the Attorneys
General have stated that they settled with the Tobacco Companies to gain
money for health care, the MSA specifically does not provide that the
cartel profits are to be used by the Attorneys General and/or States for
health care. In point of fact, the Attorneys General and States are largely
using the cartel profits for everything but paying for the health care costs
of smoking related illnesses."
Bennett & Fairshter recently filed a multi-billion dollar lawsuit in
United States District Court, Central District of California, Case No. 99-0835NM,
on the behalf of a group of Discount Cigarette Distributors.
The complaint challenges the national tobacco settlement reached between
the Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, Lorrilard, and Liggett
Group (Big Five Tobacco Companies) and the Attorneys General for 46 States.
This lawsuit asserts anti-trust and constitutional violations and seeks
remedies that will overturn this settlement, strike down two statutes which
seek to implement the settlement, seek certain injunctive relief, and mandate
that any settlement proceeds which do get paid are deposited into a national
trust to pay for health care costs of persons who are suffering
smoking-related illnesses, instead of the pork barrel projects for which
most of the States are now proposing to use the money.
The CCAA supports efforts to rescind this immoral agreement. It is our
collective opinion that the actions by the various Attorneys General
have violated the principles of good faith in government and further
erode the public's confidence in representative democracy.
The CCAA maintains a complete history of the details surrounding the
introduction of the MSA including comments from leading public officials
as well as an archive of events on our Web site.
Scott Goold, Director
Citizens for Clean Air in Apartments