15 Years on, Cash From Tobacco Suit Is Elusive
Little has been spent on anti-smoking efforts
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2013 2:59 AM CDT
Recession-battered states haven't been spending much on anti-smoking programs.   (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

(Newser) – Some 15 years after tobacco companies agreed to cough up billions of dollars in fines to settle health-care lawsuits nationwide, the details on how state governments have used the cash are pretty hazy, NPR finds. More than $100 billion has been paid out so far, with more than $100 billion yet to come, but while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that at least 14% of the cash go toward anti-smoking programs, experts say it has been hard to persuade state governments to spend much on smoking prevention and most of the cash has been spent elsewhere.

"What states have actually done has fluctuated year by year ... but it's never come close to 14%," says a tobacco industry analyst. "There are some fairly notorious cases of money being used for fixing potholes, for tax relief, [and] for financial assistance for tobacco farmers." Despite the lack of spending, smoking rates have dropped by around a quarter in the 15 years since the landmark settlement—but Big Tobacco hasn't exactly struggled financially. "When you are supplying the most widely used addictive product in the world, you have certain advantages," says the analyst. "Their cash flows remain enormous."

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Showing 3 of 15 comments
fractal
Oct 14, 2013 5:17 PM CDT
I think the amount of ciggies that people smoke has taken a dive due to the enforcement of limited areas where smoking is allowed. I am old enough to have watched the whole scenario, and the behaviorists are right... When a person has limited time and spacial constraints in which to smoke, they smoke less. As they smoke less, they begin to appriciate the idea of not smoking more. The "cutting back" is essentially done for them, and they can begin to envision themselves as non-smokers. This is especially true when people go to work, and simply cannot take the time to walk far enough to smoke legally, except at lunch.
Reader55549798
Oct 14, 2013 2:01 PM CDT
Yet another sign of just why our economy's so f'ed up. The fact that too large a percentage of it is based on unhealthy and negative behaviors continuing and/or increasing: smoking, drinking, driving inefficiently, spending unwisely in just about any way possible, eating unhealthy products excessively, packaging waste, discouragement of recycling existing materials.
NorCalHal
Oct 14, 2013 1:45 PM CDT
Personally I think EVERY company should have to pay ridiculous fines that would be used to get people to stop using their products; Starbucks, Ben & Jerry's, Shell, Kleenex, Trojan, Charmin (OK, maybe not Charmin). By doubling or tripling the price on everything we can give the "government" more to feed their addiction and feel good that we have done something to reduce consumption at the same time. It sure worked for cigarettes. They use to cost, what a dollar a pack. Now they are $ 5-6. And who do you think smokes the most, the rich or the poor? So, raising the cost of cigarettes took food off the tables of the poor but helped your local policition fund his / her favorite pork project. Now that's government taxation at it's finest! Screwing the poor to benifit the elected few. LoL