TOBACCO SETTLEMENT: Opposition To Deal Grows As Announcement Is Postponed
Public health groups are stepping up their opposition to a new deal intended to settle lawsuits filed by the states against Big Tobacco. The American Lung Association issued a statement yesterday urging state attorneys general to not sign on to the new $200 billion proposal. The public health group cites reports indicating that state AGs not directly involved in negotiating the deal "will have only two business days to review the complicated terms of the new deal and to decide whether or not to sign on." According to the ALA, the "rushed timeline is designed to prevent adequate public and media scrutiny of the deal. We fear that favorable concessions to the tobacco industry are hidden in the deal. Its terms should be released immediately and the public should have at least 30 days to review it" (release, 11/12). Next Generation California Tobacco Control Alliance's Paul Minicucci said, "We're signing off forever on letting these tobacco guys go, and they're getting off cheap. We're being railroaded" (Brazil, San Francisco Examiner, 11/12).
The Winston-Salem Journal notes that the new settlement plan was scheduled to be released tomorrow, but the AGs familiar with the deal said "the states agreed to delay it so that the companies wouldn't have to restate third-quarter earnings, as federal regulations would require for any material event before Nov. 15" (11/13). The deal is expected to be made public "early next week," most likely Monday (San Francisco Examiner, 11/12). Click here to see a breakdown of the new tobacco deal posted on the Arizona Republic's website (www.azcentral.com).
How Much Do You Get?
Arizona would reportedly get $2.67 billion over 25 years under the new settlement (Flynn, Arizona Republic, 11/13). Virginia, a leading tobacco growing state, could get "at least $3.5 billion over 25 years if all eligible states opted to join the pact" (Hardin, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/13). Alabama would be eligible for "nearly $3 billion," though outgoing Gov. Fob James Jr. (R) "said Thursday he will sue in hopes of getting more" (AP/Alabama Live, 11/12). San Francisco City Attorney Louise Renne said California stands to get $23 billion over 25 years under the deal (San Francisco Examiner, 11/12).
Nothing For The Farmers
Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton (D) "sounded a disappointed note yesterday about how Kentucky tobacco farmers are likely to fare under" the new tobacco settlement. He said, "We have made it known that we want some kind of an extra consideration for the tobacco farmer. I'm not going to comment on whether we got our expectations or not, but I'm not smiling a whole lot." Groups familiar with the deal "don't expect" that it will "include specific aid for growers" (Brammer/Gibson, Lexington Herald-Leader, 11/13).
Clinton's Tax Hike
CongressDaily reports that President Clinton's plan to request a cigarette tax increase in his next budget plan is getting a "lukewarm reception" from House Ways & Means Committee Chair Bill Archer (R-TX). An Archer spokesperson said, "With a $1.6 trillion surplus, it's disappointing ... Clinton is returning to tax increases as a solution to the nation's problems." Another congressional tax aide said lawmakers may be open to some sort of tobacco tax hike, but he emphasized that an increase in the "50, 60, 70 cents a pack" range would not be "doable." A tobacco industry lobbyist promised that cigarette makers "will lobby with vigor against a new tax" (Koffler, 11/12).