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For Immediate Release
August 19, 2004
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

ANOTHER CIGARETTE MANUFACTURER JOINS THE MASTER SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT—MARYLAND TO RECEIVE AN ADDITIONAL $38.4 MILLION DOLLARS

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran announced today that Vibo Corporation of Miami, Florida, has joined the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement ("MSA") as a Participating Manufacturer. Vibo, which does business as General Tobacco, sells a number of cigarette brands such as Bronco, GT One, Silver and Champion. Vibo’s participation will be worth $1.7 billion to all the states over the next ten years. "Under current market conditions, Maryland’s share will be $38,427,769.00 over the next ten years,” said Curran. “This is great news for Marylanders, now more of the cigarettes sold in Maryland will be subject to the MSA restrictions and it will be harder for children to buy cigarettes.”

Vibo's decision to join the MSA is especially significant because the company represents the largest tobacco product manufacturer remaining outside the MSA. Vibo is the exclusive US importer of cigarettes from Protabaco, S.A., of Bogota, Colombia, and today's agreement binds Protabaco to sell all of its cigarettes in the U.S. through Vibo and in accordance with the MSA.

The MSA was originally entered into between 46 States and the major tobacco companies in November 1998. Since that time, more than 40 other companies have joined the MSA. Participating Manufacturers under the MSA are bound by a wide array of restrictions on the advertising, promotion and marketing of cigarettes, including outright bans on targeting youth, outdoor advertising, and distribution of any merchandise advertising a cigarette brand. Since the MSA took effect, youth smoking rates nationally have dropped by more than 25% and overall smoking has declined nearly 20%. Participating manufacturers also make substantial payments to the States, and as a result of today's agreement Vibo will make an immediate payment of $78 million to the MSA States, and make full payment of its ongoing obligations in each succeeding year. Vibo agreed to make quarterly payments of these obligations to the States.

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