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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Shanetta J. Paskel, 410-576-7939
spaskel@oag.state.md.us

Attorney General Gansler Commemorates 10th Anniversary of Historic Tobacco Settlement
Decade of Public Health Gains Marked By Vigorous Enforcement


BALTIMORE, MD (November 20, 2008) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and attorneys general around the country are marking the 10-year anniversary of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) this month, which was finalized November 23, 1998. The MSA, signed by the attorneys general of 52 jurisdictions and now more than 40 tobacco companies, imposes sweeping changes in tobacco advertising, bans the tobacco companies from targeting children, allocates funding for tobacco education efforts and provides the states annual payments based on the number of cigarettes sold in the country. The total payments over the first 25 years are projected to exceed $206 billion, and payments will continue as long as cigarettes are sold. In Maryland alone, MSA payments to date amount to $1.38 billion.

In the lawsuits filed by Maryland and other states, the attorneys general sought restraints against the tobacco industry and monetary damages for state funds spent treating smoking-related illnesses. The attorneys general also accused the companies of marketing tobacco products to children and of concealing the dangers associated with tobacco use.

“The past ten years have changed the way society views tobacco use,” Attorney General Gansler said. “Ten years ago, Joe Camel was everywhere and the Marlboro Man was riding shotgun. We can measure the power of the MSA’s protections with each and every Marylander who lives longer and healthier because Big Tobacco was not allowed to entice her or him to start smoking as a child.”

The MSA’s advertising restrictions have reduced mainstream exposure to tobacco images and, combined with effective MSA-funded youth smoking prevention campaigns, have led to dramatic declines in smoking rates, including among youth. According to data from the CDC and the U.S. Census Bureau, 5.8 million American high school students smoked in 1997, and ten years later, that number is 3.5 million.

Since 1998, Maryland’s actions to enforce the MSA’s marketing restrictions include:

  • Youth Targeting Through Magazine Ad Placements: Maryland supported California’s successful lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (Reynolds) in 2001 to enforce the MSA’s prohibition against targeting youth in advertising, marketing or promotion by placing advertisements in magazines with substantial youth readership.
  • “Kool Mixx” Hip Hop Promotion: Maryland, New York and Illinois sued Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co. in 2004 in connection with the company’s “Kool Mixx” hip hop music promotion. The resulting nationwide settlement ended the promotion’s objectionable aspects along with the tobacco company paying $1.46 million to fund youth smoking prevention programs in urban areas targeted by the campaign.
  • Flavored Cigarettes: Following an investigation by Maryland and other states as to whether Reynolds’ flavored cigarettes violated the MSA’s prohibition against youth targeted tobacco marketing, Reynolds agreed to cease marketing its existing flavored cigarettes and to significantly restrict future marketing of any such cigarettes, including limits on using certain names and descriptors in its advertising.
  • Camel Farm Rocks Indie Music Campaign: In December 2007, Maryland sued Reynolds alleging that its November 2007 advertisement in Rolling Stone magazine and the distribution of Indie Rock music CDs violated tobacco marketing prohibitions against cartoons and brand name merchandise. The State’s action is pending in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

Other significant actions by the Maryland Attorney General to prevent youth smoking or otherwise related to the MSA include:

  • Smoking in Movies - Since 2003, in response to research linking children’s viewing of tobacco depictions in movies and their initiation of smoking, the Maryland Attorney General has been a leader in the nationwide effort to eliminate tobacco brand appearances in movies and to reduce the depictions of smoking in movies viewed by children. To date, several studios have inserted anti-smoking PSA’s in DVD movies and Time Warner, Inc. has begun certifying that no payment was received for tobacco depictions.
  • Internet Cigarette Sales - The Maryland Attorney General’s actions to prevent illegal underage or untaxed cigarette sales over the Internet, including notifications to one hundred Internet cigarette retailers, have resulted in settlements with two online retailers, Dirt Cheap Cigarettes (2003) and Valucigs (2008).
  • National Tobacco Retailers - The Maryland Attorney General has reached multi-state agreements with national tobacco retailers including Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP Amoco, CVS, 7-Eleven, Walmart and Rite Aid, to establish best practices to prevent underage tobacco sales in approximately 1600 Maryland locations.


   

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