Big tobacco pays Iowa $50.9 million dollars

DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa has received a $50.9 Million payment from tobacco companies, according to the Office of the Attorney General of Iowa.

It is part of a 1998 landmark settlement in which attorney generals of 45 states made a deal with the nation’s four largest tobacco companies to settle lawsuits to recover billions of dollars in state health care costs associated with treating smoking-related illnesses.

In the last 20 years, Iowa has received more than $1.2 billion in payments under the settlement. The state will continue to receive annual Master Settlement Agreement payments in perpetuity, based on the number of cigarettes sold in the United States.

About $11.2 million of this year's payment - or 22 percent - will go to the state.

The 78 percent remainder will be used principally to pay bondholders who bought bonds issued by the Tobacco Settlement Authority.

According to a press release from the Office of the Attorney General of Iowa, the settlement created restrictions on the advertising, marketing and promotion of cigarettes, including a ban on targeting children through advertising.  It also includes prohibitions on outdoor advertising of cigarettes and the advertising of cigarettes in public transit facilities, as well as the use of cigarette brand names on merchandise, and a host of other restrictions.

The central purpose of the agreement was to reduce smoking, particularly among youth.

Since it was announced, cigarette sales in the United States have fallen substantially. Adult smoking rates have fallen from 24 percent of the U.S. population in 1999 to 15 percent in 2016, according to the U.S. Centers on Disease Control and Prevention.

Only 5.4 percent of teenagers in grades eight, 10 and 12 reported smoking a cigarette in the past 30 days in 2017, according to the Monitoring the Future survey.