Lawsuits and Settlements

  • In 1994 the attorney general of Mississippi, Mike Moore, sued cigarette manufacturers to recover the Medicaid costs of caring for patients with smoking-related diseases. His counterparts in Florida, Texas, and Minnesota soon followed.
  • In 1998 the attorneys-general of the remaining 46 states entered into an agreement with the five largest cigarette makers. This Master Settlement Agreement included restrictions on cigarette advertising and promotion (such as an end to the use of billboards) and required the tobacco companies to make annual payments to the states totaling $206 billion through 2025.
  • Ironically, the more cigarettes that are sold, the more money accrues to the states; and only a small percentage of this revenue is earmarked for campaigns to reduce demand for tobacco products. Also in the mid-1990s, revelations by former cigarette company employees gave momentum to thousands of individual and class action lawsuits against the tobacco industry brought by the families of dead and dying smokers.

“Florida Settlement, Joe Cherner Panelist” [1 of 3]

Video clip of news story
CNBC
1997

“Florida Settlement, Joe Cherner Panelist” [2 of 3]

Video clip of news story
ABC
2000

“Florida Settlement, Joe Cherner Panelist” [3 of 3]

Video clip of news story
NBC Today
2000

“Activists: Tobacco settlement wasted”

News article by Steve LeBlanc and Julie Carr Smyth
The Tuscaloosa News, pages 1A and 5A
November 21, 2008

“Tobacco Settlement Seen as Opportunity Lost To Curb Cigarette Use”

News article by Renee Twombly
Journal of the National Cancer Institute, vol. 96, no. 10, pages 730-732
May 19, 2004

“States’ Tobacco Settlement Has Failed to Clear the Air”

News article by Myron Levin
Chicago Sun-Times
November 9, 2003

“Tobacco settlement funds rarely used to fight smoking”

News article by Steve LeBlanc and Julie Carr Smyth
Light of the Coastal Empire (Savannah, Georgia), page 9A
November 21, 2008

“States, industry OK $206 billion tobacco settlement”

News article by Skip Wollenberg
The Birmingham News, page 3A
November 15, 1998

Fleetwood cigarettes magazine advertisement
1943

Newspaper headline
Sun-Sentinel (Broward County, Florida)
July 15, 2000

Rex Babin
Sacramento Bee
Intended for publication in the Albany Times Union, but never published
1998

“One of the advantages of working in a graphic medium is being able to depict something like the horror of a tracheostomy, graphically.”

~ Rex Babin

Randy Bish
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Circa 1997-1998

“Years ago, a doctor gave a relative of mine a jar that held some of the residue that smoking had left in her lungs. That was not enough to scare her away from the habit, but it sure left an impression on me. My relative passed away shortly after that. I’ve never smoked, and I pray that my children never start.”

~ Randy Bish

Comic strip by Garry Trudeau
Los Angeles Times, page H5
July 31, 2005

Chip Bok
Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
April 13, 1998

“My father is a retired family doctor who hates smoking and sees it as his right, and duty, to inform all who smoke that they will die. One of my best friends from childhood proved him right by dying of lung cancer at age 50.

“My dad’s attitude wasn’t just a professional opinion. He says his father set a great terrible example for smoking. It’s true. I’ve heard my grandfather’s morning hacking many times. He too succumbed to smoking related cancer.

“So, it’s not surprising that I hate smoking, too. Almost as much as I hate the sanctimonious anti-second-hand-smoking politicians and lawyers who compound the suffering of the poor wheezing smokers by squeezing them with ever higher cigarette taxes and price increases due to the huge settlements they’ve extorted from the tobacco companies in litigation. Now that the settlements have become a big part of state budgets, the anti-smoking pros have become virtual partners with the tobacco companies.”

~ Chip Bok

Etta Hulme
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas)
April 12, 1998

“Governor Bush initially opposed suing the tobacco companies but became more enthusiastic about the money when the dollar signs appeared ($17.3 billion), after Attorney General Dan Morales got up his own posse and went after them anyway. Legal fees totaling more than $3 billion for Morales’ buddies upset Bush, but he still welcomed the money. Morales hoped to end up in the governor’s mansion but is serving time in prison instead for fraud. Only in Texas, or maybe Comedy Central.”

~ Etta Hulme

Peter Steiner
The Washington Times
1998

Gary Varvel
Indianapolis Star
July 13, 2000

“The reason for the wheezin’ is money. Our government is addicted to tobacco taxes and can’t break the habit. Usually it would ban any substance that is making people sick. Ah, but not at the expense of the goose that coughs up profits. It will be protected as long as it produces golden eggs.”

~ Gary Varvel

John Trever
Albuquerque Journal
September 24, 1999

“‘It’s for the children.’ That’s what the attorneys-general hid behind to make themselves sound noble. It’s really a money-generating machine for lawyers. What public policy value these lawyers have is beyond me.”

“Smoking is a horrible thing. I hate it. My grandma died from it. But unless we’re heading for Prohibition, I don’t get the end-game.”

~ Mike Ritter

David Reddick
The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, Indiana)
Circa 2000

Joel Pett
Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Kentucky)
July 23, 2000

Dennis Draughon
Scranton Times (Scranton, Pennsylvania)
March 25, 1996

“I started my career in Raleigh, N.C. at the tender age of twenty-five, taking up Camel Lights a few times a day to keep company with my girlfriend of the time. In short order I was promoted to a pack-a-day habit that alternated between Camel Lights, Marlboro Reds, and Dunhills. After a few years, I tried to develop a unique style by rolling my own, favoring Three Castles brand tobacco. The pressures of a daily deadline soon forced me out of this leisurely pace and back into the arms of Reynolds and Philip Morris production methods. I moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1990 and continued my long association with pre-packaged tobacco products until the first of many unsuccessful attempts to quit smoking. In order to cut down my intake, I went back to rolling my own, this time switching to a down-market brand, Drum tobacco. After a short but intense career of almost ten years, I finally went cold turkey during my wife’s first pregnancy. Quitting was one of the most difficult career moves I ever had to make and is one accomplishment of which I am most proud. Even though I’ve been smoke-free for the past seven years and have become one of those ex-smokers that occasionally nags current users about the evils of addiction to nicotine, I continue to draw editorial cartoons for the Scranton Times.”

~ Dennis Draughon

Mike Thompson
Detroit Free Press
1998

“This cartoon was drawn in response to health studies that linked smoking to illness. I was struck by the fact that it has taken decades to publicly acknowledge what everyone has known for years: smoking kills. I’m amazed that the tobacco companies continued to deny a link for decades, long after the health hazards of smoking were well known. I’m even more amazed that they got away with their absurd denials and that Congress bought into this deadly public ruse. It’s a textbook example of how money distorts our political process. In this case, the distortion had deadly results.”
~ Mike Thompson

Bentley Boyd
Daily Press (Williamsburg, Virginia)
July 1997

Rob Rogers
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
November 25, 1998

“My relationship with tobacco began when I was a child. No, I didn’t start smoking at six. My father happens to be a physician specializing in pulmonary medicine. He enlisted me to draw cartoons of people smoking or hooked up to lung machines. During one creative period I even drew Snoopy with a bronchoscope coming out of his giant beagle nose. My first paying job in cartooning consisted of a series of colored drawings about the hazards of smoking to illustrate a hospital study. As you can see, it has continued to be a topic of interest to me.”

~ Rob Rogers

Paul Fell
Lincoln Journal Star (Lincoln, Nebraska)
2000

John Cole
The Herald-Sun (Durham, North Carolina)
Circa 1997-1998

“Let me just say, as a former smoker, that putting away the ‘nicky sticks’ was one the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The Surgeon General’s report was well known by the time I picked up the habit in the mid-’70s, but regarded lightly or with outright hostility in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. My father, a surgeon and long-reformed smoker, warned me about tobacco’s dangers. But, hell, I was 18 years old and bullet-proof. Now 46, I’m lucky to still have my health.

“My advice to any prospective young smokers out there: don’t.”

~ John Cole

Mike Luckovich
Atlanta Constitution
1996

Charlie Daniel
The Knoxville News-Sentinel
Circa 1997-1998

“Tennessee declined to join in on the states’ lawsuit against the tobacco companies, but was more than happy to cash in on the settlement money.”

~ Charlie Daniel

Jim Larrick
The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
1998

“We would never intentionally expose our children to plague, but we’ve taught them to smoke cigarettes. Now we’re spending literally billions of dollars trying to undo the harm, but a walk across any college campus or a visit to the back fence of any school yard shows precisely how effective our efforts have been.”

~ Jim Larrick

Kevin Kallaugher
Baltimore Sun
July 20, 2000

“I really want to comment on this cartoon, but after consulting with my lawyer, I decline.”

~ Kevin Kallaugher

Joe Heller
Green Bay Press-Gazette
2000

David Fitzsimmons
Arizona Daily Star
July 23, 2000

“My mother and my father died within a month of each other because of their inability to overcome their addiction to cigarettes. I understand, firsthand, the impact of tobacco on the lives of people.”

~ David Fitzsimmons

Mike Luckovich
Atlanta Constitution
2000

Mark Fiore
July 17, 2000

“I drew this cartoon back when the tobacco companies were whining about the size of the settlements and damage awards they were going to have to pay out. It struck me as absurd that they were complaining about their pain in the face of all the pain that smoking causes in the world. This issue is particularly close to my heart since my grandma died of lung cancer.”

~ Mark Fiore

Mike Ritter
Tribune Newspapers, Phoenix, Arizona
1998

“‘It’s for the children.’ That’s what the attorneys-general hid behind to make themselves sound noble. It’s really a money-generating machine for lawyers. What public policy value these lawyers have is beyond me.”

“Smoking is a horrible thing. I hate it. My grandma died from it. But unless we’re heading for Prohibition, I don’t get the end-game.”

~ Mike Ritter

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