Statement of the ENACT Coalition
on the Settlement between the State Attorneys General and the Tobacco Industry
The state Attorneys General have
done a great service by bringing and pursuing their cases against the tobacco
industry. The announcement today of a settlement between the tobacco companies
and some of the states can be a significant step in the long journey to
reduce the number of children who become addicted to tobacco and the number
of adults who die from tobacco-caused disease.
We have not yet reviewed the agreement in detail, but there are several
serious questions which we will want to discuss with the state Attorneys
General, including whether this agreement can be strengthened to improve
public health provisions. In addition, whatever the merits of the agreement,
there are two critical points to be made.
1. This legal settlement between states and tobacco companies is in
no way a substitute for a national tobacco control policy.
- There are critical areas the settlement does not cover at all, including
FDA regulation of tobacco products, restrictions on youth access to tobacco,
protections against environmental (secondhand) tobacco smoke, stronger
health warnings, penalties if youth smoking rates don't decline, and assistance
for tobacco farmers.
- The settlement's public health provisions leave much to be done, even
in the areas it addresses, such as tobacco marketing. It does not limit
print advertising, permits continued brand name sponsorship and some outdoor
marketing, even near schools, and does not address the problem of tobacco
marketing in stores.
Accordingly, Congressional legislation remains a critical next step.
Since the Congress declined to pass tobacco control legislation last summer,
more than 500,000 youth have become regular smokers.
2. It is our understanding that the settlement does not require that
the states spend any of the funds they receive on tobacco control efforts.
But the agreement cannot be a productive tobacco control measure unless
a substantial portion of the payments to the states are committed to new
or expanded efforts to reduce tobacco use.
- The settling states should follow the lead of Massachusetts, California,
Florida and others that have embarked on major tobacco reduction programs.
These programs work, and they will be even more effective as more states
- If these settlement funds are diverted from tobacco control, states
will face continued increases in youth tobacco use. Not only will they
miss the opportunity to protect their children and help adults quit, they
will find that their costs of tobacco-caused disease in the future will
dwarf what they sought payment for today.
It is important to stress that there is still much more to be done.
Tobacco companies continue to market aggressively to young people, continue
to fight state tobacco control measures (such as Proposition 10 in California),
and continue to resist responsible regulation. At the very least, the industry
should cooperate with the meaning of the settlement with the Attorneys
General by not attempting to divert settlement money from states' tobacco
If the tobacco companies successfully lobby to prevent spending this
money on anti-tobacco programs, the price to society will be another generation
condemned to an early and terrible death.
Our very preliminary analysis of the agreement suggests there are serious
questions that require a fuller explanation by the state Attorneys General.
- Whether the legal claims from which the tobacco companies are being
released are so broad as to inhibit important consumer protection or public
- Whether the dollar-for-dollar offset given to the tobacco companies
in the event Congress imposes a new fee or tax on tobacco companies will
make it more difficult to pass important national tobacco control legislation.
- Whether the document release provision will make it more difficult
to obtain documents about which the industry has claimed a lawyer/client
or other privilege.
- Whether the exceptions to the brand name sponsorship are so broad as
to undermine their effectiveness.
- Whether the prohibition on marketing to children sets a standard that
may be impossible to enforce. We urge that adequate time be given for discussion
of whether the agreement can and should be improved.
The ENACT coalition will continue to work with the governors, state
legislators, state Attorneys General, the Clinton Administration and the
Congress for effective state and national policies, regulation and legislation.
Today's announced settlement is a major step, but much more is needed to
reduce tobacco use and end decades of disease and death.
For More Information, contact: Jennifer Thorp, 202-296-5469 or Emily