Tobacco Settlement One Year Old TodayMiller: "The bad news is that Iowa has had 5,000 tobacco-related deaths in one year, and 12,000 kids took up smoking. The good news is that tobacco money is arriving and solutions are available to solve this problem."
Des Moines-- Attorney General Tom Miller noted that today marks the one-year anniversary of the settlement between the tobacco industry and states throughout the nation. On November 23, 1998, the industry agreed to pay 46 states over $200 billion and to sharply change many of its practices.
"The bad news is that Iowa has had about 5,000 tobacco-related deaths since the settlement took effect," Miller said, citing estimates by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
"Twelve thousand Iowa kids have taken up smoking in one year," Miller added. "We have to solve this problem."
Iowa is slated to receive almost $2 billion under the settlement in payments of about $60-70 million per year until 2025, and at similar rates indefinitely after that. Iowa's first payment of $20.9 million is slated to arrive in early December, and another $55 million will arrive early next year. Miller has asked the Legislature to earmark $20.5 million of the first $76 million for a comprehensive program to reduce tobacco addiction, disease and death - especially among children.
"The good news is that the money is arriving now and solutions are working to reduce youth smoking and addiction," Miller said. He noted that cigarette consumption has dropped significantly in California, Massachusetts, and Oregon, states that already have implemented comprehensive programs. Miller said a wide-ranging campaign in Iowa could reduce the smoking rate from over 23% to under 20%, saving thousands of lives and resulting in huge savings to taxpayers.
Miller also noted that the settlement last year already has dramatically changed practices by the tobacco industry: Cartoon characters are prohibited. Billboards are prohibited - and in many places have been replaced by pro-health messages. Brand-name merchandise is prohibited (hats, t-shirts, backpacks, jackets, etc.) Free samples are sharply restricted to places where no kids are present. Hi-visibility tobacco sponsorships are curtailed for events such as concerts and sports teams. Payments for tobacco placement is banned for movies, TV shows, videos, etc. The industry's Tobacco Institute and Council for Tobacco Research have been dissolved. The industry has begun making billions of dollars in payments to the States.
"We've come a long way in a year," Miller said. "We need to keep moving forward to keep kids off cigarettes and reduce the extraordinary suffering and cost of tobacco."
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