Blumenthal happy with tobacco money's destination

John O'Brien Nov. 19, 2008, 4:28pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - The Connecticut General Assembly has appropriated nearly $7 million from funds received through the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to anti-smoking programs.

Blumenthal recently urged $2 million for QuitLine, a hotline for those trying to quit smoking. Lawmakers agreed, adding $1.2 million for counseling and medication for those with serious mental illnesses trying to quit.

"Connecticut is turning the corner in the fight against tobacco -- having squandered years -- but much more must be done," Blumenthal said.

"This decision will literally save lives and money, slashing smoking-related disease and dollars spent to treat it.

"I am pleased that lawmakers are at last heeding my repeated calls to support anti-smoking programs with millions the state receives from the tobacco settlement."

Blumenthal had asked that the money come from settlements from the pharmaceutical world.

Blumenthal said last week money earned in a settlement over the marketing practices of Cephalon, Inc., is "ammunition to fight another battle." He transferred $4.3 million -- $3.8 million from the Cephalon settlement -- to the Connecticut Cancer Plan Initiative and more than $2 million more to the state's General Fund to help with a deficit.

Cephalon, accused of promoting off-label usage of three of its drugs, settled with federal and state investigators in September for $425 million. Blumenthal settled a separate suit for $6.15 million.

Tuesday's decision came from the Public Health and Appropriations Committees and the money will come from the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund.

The MSA has an estimated worth of $246 billion over 25 years for the 52 participating states and territories. The plaintiffs alleged tobacco companies were putting a strain on Medicaid programs.

More than $400,000 will be given for community-based smoking cessation programs, and $500,000 will be given to smoking prevention programs in 10-20 school districts.

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