WASHINGTONThe new tobacco settlement has left tobacco-control
advocates fearing that the $206 billion dollar agreement may have
blunted their efforts to reduce smoking and the death and disability
The deal concedes far too much to Big Tobacco and provides far
too little to protect public health, said John R. Garrison,
chief executive officer of the American Lung Association.
Although setting some limits on the industry, the settlement is far
narrower than either the ill-fated $368.5 billion agreement worked
out by the tobacco industry and the attorneys general of 40 states in
1997 or the comprehensive tobacco bill that went down to defeat in
the US Senate last June. As a result, it was viewed as a mixed
blessing at best by smoking-control advocates.
By terminating lawsuits by a number of states, the settlement may
have reduced the pressure on Congress, state legislatures, and local
governments to enact tougher controls and higher taxes on tobacco
products. Unlike the 1997 settlement agreement, this pact does not
require any congressional action to implement it.
One immediate impact of the agreement, which runs to the year 2025,
was a sharp rise in cigarette prices. Philip Morris hiked its
wholesale price by 45 cents a pack, and others quickly followed. The
increase was slightly more than market analysts had predicted the
companies would need to pay the settlement costs.
However, the rise fell far short of the $1.50 a pack increase long
sought by antitobacco forces as a key to curbing teen smoking.
Antitax conservatives in Congress and in the states have objected on
philosophical grounds to raising tobacco taxes, and the question now
is whether the agreement killed any impetus for new tobacco levies.
Tobacco use and tobacco-caused disease are continuing at
epidemic proportions, and much remains to be done, warned
ENACT, a coalition of major health organizations. It called for a
strong national effort to reduce tobacco use throughout the country.
Several health groups strongly criticized the failure of the
agreement to require each state to devote a sizable amount of the
money it receives to antitobacco programs. The money from the
tobacco companies should be seen as payments for past wrongs that
must be invested to reduce future tobacco-related harms, the
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said in a statement.
President Clinton called the agreement an important step in the
right direction. But he also urged the incoming Congress to
again make comprehensive national tobacco legislation one of its top priorities.
The President also announced that the US Solicitor General would seek
Supreme Court review of a US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision
that the Food and Drug Administration does not have the power to
regulate tobacco advertising. Comprehensive national tobacco
legislation must include many things, but especially it must clarify
the jurisdiction of the FDA, Mr. Clinton said.
The new settlement does not address the FDAs power to regulate
tobacco issues. It was negotiated by eight state attorneys general,
led by Christine Gregoire of Washington, with the nations four
largest tobacco companies Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco
Co., Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., and Lorillard, Inc. A
separate, $100 million agreement was reached with US Tobacco, the
nations largest producer of smokeless tobacco.
Forty-six states, the District of Columbia, and four US territories
ultimately signed on to the agreement. Four statesMississippi,
Florida, Texas, and Minnesotahad previously reached individual
settlements with the tobacco industry.
The national settlement provides that the terms of agreement are
subject to enforcement by the courts, and given its complexity and
the dollars involved, court battles seem inevitable. Among its many
provisions, the agreement will:
Establish an industry-funded $1.45 billion foundation to carry out a
sustained, nationwide advertising and education program aimed at
informing consumers about tobacco-related diseases.
Ban the use of cartoon characters, such as Joe Camel, in advertising,
promoting, or packaging tobacco products, and, beginning, July 1,
1999, ban the distribution and sale of apparel and merchandise
bearing tobacco names and logos. However, human models such as the
Marlboro Man are not excluded.
Prohibit aiming tobacco advertising, promotion, or marketing at young
people and any efforts to initiate, maintain, or increase youth smoking.
Require the tobacco companies to set up a user-friendly website that
includes all documents produced in state and other smoking and
health-related lawsuits. The industry must maintain this site at its
expense for 10 years.
Ban outdoor advertisingincluding billboards, signs, and
placards in arenas, stadiums, shopping malls, and video game
arcadesand transit advertising of tobacco products, as well as
limit advertising outside of retail establishments to 14 square feet.
Forbid payments to promote tobacco products in movies, television
shows, and other forms of entertainment; ban the sponsorship of team
sports or events with significant youth audiences; and prohibit the
use of tobacco brand names for stadiums and arenas.
Disband the industry-supported Council for Tobacco Research, Tobacco
Institute, and Council for Indoor Air Research, and require the
preservation of all their records related to any lawsuits.