Tobacco settlement numbers coming out

John O'Brien Jan. 11, 2007, 3:07pm

So far, California Attorney General Jerry Brown has claimed the most of any other of the 46 state attorneys general participating in a $55.4 million settlement against a tobacco company.

Brown said on Dec. 22 his state will receive $7.15 million from House of Prince A/S, an overseas cigarette manufacturer that has given up on conducting business in the U.S.

Of the amount, $309,000 will go directly to Brown's office. California filed its lawsuit in Feb. 2003, alleging that Scandinavian Tobacco, an affiliated entity with House of Prince, had not paid the costs associated with the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

House of Prince countered by saying the MSA should not force it to pay costs on cigarettes made by an affiliate. The settlement resolved a three-year court battle.

California, as well as every other state except Florida, Mississippi, Minnesota and Texas, is part of the MSA. The agreement requires tobacco distributors to make annual payments for health care costs.

The National Association of Attorneys General, a group of the states' highest lawyers, say they created the MSA for the central reason of reducing smoking. It also says that cigarette sales are down 21 percent since the first settlement in 1997.

"I am pleased that the settlement of this long-standing dispute provides the state money it is owed and preserves the MSA's integrity," said West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw, whose state will receive $500,000 .

House of Prince A/S stopped providing cigarettes for American distributing in 2003.

Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C. and four American territories are also part of the MSA.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said his state will receive $2.33 million.

"No tobacco manufacturer, no matter how big or how small, will be permitted to ignore its obligation to pay Michigan its fair share of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement," Cox said.

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