Nicotine: Law and order

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 1:20 pm

In 1998 the tobacco industry settled lengthy lawsuits by making a historic agreement with the States’ Attorneys General called the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). In exchange for protection from further lawsuits, the industry agreed to reimburse the states billions of dollars over 25 years to pay for smoking-related illnesses. The MSA immediately banned new billboard and public transit advertisements, prohibited distribution of free samples except at adult-only facilities, and disallowed cartoons and targeting of youth in advertising.
The agreement and the accompanying negative publicity for tobacco companies, along with increased anti-smoking advertising, had a significant effect on tobacco consumption. Cigarette sales fell 10% from 1998 to 1999, with per capita sales declining by 112 cigarettes per person. High-school smoking rates declined significantly between 1997 and 2001. The MSA energized the global tobacco control movement as many are worried that tobacco companies will dramatically boost advertising to youths abroad to make up for anticipated future losses.

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