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Attorney General Lockyer Felivers Tobacco Settlement Funds to Merced County
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced the payment of $1,597,602 to Merced County, representing the local government's first installment of annual tobacco settlement funds through the California Department of Justice.
The payment is the county's share of the more than $1 billion to be paid annually to California by tobacco companies under the landmark multi-state civil settlement reached in November 1998. California was among 46 states that took the tobacco industry to court over decades of allegedly deceitful advertising and illegal marketing of tobacco products aimed at children.
"The tobacco companies agreed to substantial monetary payments and to stop targeting young kids in their advertising and marketing in large part due to the determined and united front presented by state and local governments in California," Lockyer said. "Californians now have a fighting chance to save current and future generations from tobacco addiction, disease and premature death."
The state of California and local governments will split the tobacco settlement monies 50/50. Each county's share of the settlement is based on population. Like the state, counties have no restrictions on how the settlement funds are to be used. Each county will determine how to spend the funds.
In addition to the financial payments, the Master Settlement Agreement restricted how tobacco companies market and advertise their products. Among other things, tobacco companies are prohibited from targeting children in marketing and promotions, from giving away free samples where teenagers might gain access, and from using tobacco brand-name merchandise. The settlement also resulted in the elimination of hundreds of billboards featuring outdoor advertising of tobacco products.
The Attorney General's Office represented the State of California in the tobacco litigation. To ensure compliance with the restrictions, Attorney General Lockyer has established the first, full-time state tobacco enforcement unit in the country and provided consumers with a complaint line, 916-565-6486, so that Californians can report suspected violations.
<a href="../tobacco/fact.php">Fact sheet about the Master Settlement Agreement</a>