Arkansas to receive about $61 million from tobacco companies in 2022

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 588 views 

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Monday (April 25) that money from the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with tobacco companies will be distributed, with Arkansas receiving nearly $61 million.

The multi-billion dollar agreement was signed in 1998 by 46 states and numerous other jurisdictions to settle consumer protection lawsuits for the health and social costs incurred by Americans for smoking.

“Tobacco companies are paying into this settlement for engaging in bad business practices by misleading the public on the dangers of tobacco,” Rutledge said. “These funds will be used for healthcare research and other vital programs impacting Arkansas children and families.”

With the 2022 disbursement of $60.9 million, the total amount received since 2001 to fund various public health programs in Arkansas is $1.282 billion. The MSA imposed health-related and advertising restrictions on tobacco companies which required the settling manufacturers to make annual payments to the settling states.

Rutledge is tasked with enforcing the MSA and related tobacco statutes. This enforcement includes the operation of a certification process for tobacco manufacturers, ongoing quarterly and annual reporting, maintaining an Approved-For-Sale Directory, conducting audits, enforcing escrow laws and investigation or even litigation, should violations of the MSA or tobacco statutes occur.

In 2000, Arkansas voters created the Tobacco Settlement Act, which governs how the settlement funds are used.

Payments are placed into the Tobacco Settlement Program Fund for later distribution to the programs supported by the settlement payments, including the Arkansas Biosciences Institute, an agricultural and medical research consortium; the Medicaid Expansion Program, which provides Medicaid coverage for pregnant women and increases hospital benefits for Medicaid beneficiaries; the Prevention and Cessation Program, which aims to reduce tobacco use; and the Targeted State Needs Program, which includes support for public health programs for minorities, older Arkansans and residents of rural areas and the Delta.