Okla. Receives Tobacco Money

October 6, 2005

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson and State Treasurer Scott Meacham said Oklahoma received has more than $741,000 from a settlement with the tobacco industry.

Meacham’s office confirmed receipt of a wire transfer in the amount of $741,832.28 from the trustee of the tobacco settlement funds. Seventy percent of the payment, more than $519,000, went directly into the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund, which now has a balance of more than $242 million.

The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund was created by a voter-approved amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution in 2000, which specifies that only the earnings from the trust fund may be spent on programs to improve the health and well being of Oklahomans, particularly children and senior adults.

Including today’s installment, Oklahoma has received more than $435 million from the tobacco industry since 1998. The Master Settlement Agreement requires the industry to make payments to the states in April each year.

In November 1998, Edmondson and seven other attorneys general announced they had, on behalf of the states, negotiated a historic settlement with big tobacco. The settlement imposes sweeping bans on tobacco advertising, stops the tobacco companies from targeting children, allocates funding for tobacco education efforts and pays the states about $206 billion in recovery funds.

Oklahoma filed its lawsuit in August 1996, becoming the 14th state to file a lawsuit against the tobacco companies. The lawsuit asked for restraints against the industry and about $1 billion in damages for funds spent for treatment of smoking related illnesses. Oklahoma’s share of the settlement is estimated to be $2.03 billion over the next 25 years. An additional $268 million was awarded to the state for the strategic contribution Edmondson, his office and local counsel made to the prosecution of the lawsuit.

The local counsel fees were paid by the tobacco industry and did not come from Oklahoma’s share of the settlement.

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