TEXARKANA, TexThe tobacco industry has reached a settlement with the State of Texas worth $15.3 billion, the largest such settlement to date. Previously, the companies settled with Mississippi for $3.4 billion and with Florida for $11.3 billion. The states private trial lawyers will receive 15% of the sum in fees, a total of more than $2.2 billion.
The settlement is to reimburse the state for Medicaid money spent to treat people with smoking-related illnesses. The money is earmarked for state antismoking campaigns, but Texas lawmakers have said that only the Legislature has the authority to decide how to spend state funds.
Although the settlement perhaps helps clear the way for Congress to consider the proposed $368.5 billion agreement between the companies and more than 40 state attorneys general, another trial is looming in Minnesota, where attorney general Hubert Humphrey III has vowed to make the companies pay heavily.