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CCAA Asks Attorney General Madrid to Rescind Master Settlement Agreement

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