Rutledge: State Receives $49 Million in Tobacco Settlement Funds
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has secured the 2016 share of proceeds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with tobacco companies. In 1998, 46 states and numerous other jurisdictions entered into a historic, multibillion dollar agreement to settle consumer protection lawsuits filed by the states for the costs that they had incurred for treating the negative health effects of smoking.
“This settlement was entered into years ago, but it is critical that I continue to enforce the terms of the agreement with the various tobacco companies,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This money will be used by the State to improve the overall health of Arkansas residents, fund smoking cessation programs and conduct health care research. A large portion of this money will also go to help fund the Arkansas Medicaid program, which is vital for some of our state’s families and children.”
This year’s disbursement of $49,659,216 brings the total amount received since 2001 to fund various public health programs in Arkansas to $896,732,626.
This agreement, referred to as the MSA, imposed health-related and advertising restrictions on tobacco companies. In addition, the MSA requires the settling manufacturers to make annual payments to the settling states. Arkansas received about $1.6 billion from the settlement, a portion of which is paid yearly by the settling tobacco companies.
The Attorney General is charged with enforcing the tobacco statutes that were enacted pursuant to the MSA. This enforcement includes operation of a certification process for tobacco wholesalers and manufacturers, ongoing quarterly and annual reporting, maintaining an Approved-For-Sale Directory, conducting audits, collection of escrow amounts and investigation or even litigation should violations of the tobacco statutes occur.
In 2000, Arkansas voters created the Tobacco Settlement Act, which governs how the funds received under the settlement are used. MSA payments are placed into the Tobacco Settlement Program Fund for later distribution to the programs supported by the settlement payments.
A number of programs are supported through the fund, including the Arkansas Biosciences Institute, an agricultural and medical research consortium; the Medicaid Expansion Program, which provides Medicaid coverage for pregnant women and increases hospital benefits for Medicaid beneficiaries; the Prevention and Cessation Program, which aims to reduce tobacco use; and the Targeted State Needs Program, which includes support for public health programs for minorities, older Arkansans and residents of rural areas and the Delta.
About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. She is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected to the office. Since taking office, she has begun a Mobile Office program, a Military and Veterans Initiative, a Metal Theft Prevention program and a Cooperative Disability Investigations program. She has led efforts to teach Internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge also re-established and co-chairs the National Association of Attorneys General Committee on Agriculture.
A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for Gov. Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and subsequently was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.