Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement One Year Later - 11/23/99
The Tobacco Litigation and Enforcement Section ensures tobacco industry compliance with the Master Settlement Agreement and the Smokeless Master Settlement Agreement. Major accomplishments and activities include:
- Administer settlement payments to state and local governments.
- Successfully defended the tobacco settlement against an attempted attack by a smokers' rights group, Smokers for Fairness. This victory ensured that California would receive the approximately $1 billion in annual settlement payments no later than June 30, 2000. The victory also moved all states closer to achieving the 80 percent state-specific finality threshold needed to allow states involved in the settlement to begin receiving payments as early as January 2000.
- In-depth investigations of tobacco company advertising in national magazines to ensure compliance with the Master Settlement Agreement ban on campaigns that target youth. The monitoring included reviewing national advertising that use cartoons, images and themes that evidence the targeting of youth for tobacco products.
- Investigated tobacco company conduct at "brand name" sponsorship events in California to ensure that the restrictions on outdoor advertising of tobacco products and sampling are not violated. This brought the first formal enforcement action in the nation against a tobacco company for violations of the Master Settlement Agreement. The complaint against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company involved alleged violations of advertising and promotion of tobacco products at Winston-sponsored NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) and NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) events in California. The complaint already has prompted major changes in the company's advertising practices and sponsored-events at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds.
- Secured tobacco company compliance with restrictions on outdoor advertising of tobacco products. The complaint against Philip Morris, Inc., resulted in the removal of tobacco product signs and billboards prohibited by the Master Settlement Agreement. Anti-tobacco advertising replaced the banned product signs. Initiated informal efforts to force a tobacco company to use "commercially reasonable" efforts to curtail third party conduct that would be prohibited if done by a tobacco company. One of the actions involved a retailer with significant ties to Philip Morris who erected a billboard advertising Marlboro cigarettes.
- Filed the first-ever prosecution of a tobacco company for non-sale distribution of coupons for tobacco products on public sidewalks and in public buildings and other public places in violation of Health and Safety Code section 118950.
- Regular and active participation in a national tobacco enforcement working group that involves Attorneys General from 10 states and advises the Tobacco Enforcement Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General.