States' Use of Master Settlement Agreement Payments
GAO-01-851: Published: Jun 29, 2001. Publicly Released: Jul 30, 2001.
The attorneys general of 46 states signed a settlement agreement in 1998 with the nation's largest tobacco companies. The agreement requires the tobacco companies to make annual payments to the states in perpetuity as reimbursement for past tobacco-related costs. Florida, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Texas reached earlier individual settlements with the tobacco companies. States are free to use the money for any purpose. This report examines (1) the amount of payments received by the states and the states' decision-making processes on the allocation of payments in fiscal years 2000 and 2001 and (2) the types of programs that states funded with their payments in those two fiscal years. As of April 2001, GAO found that 45 of the 46 states received nearly $13.5 billion of the $206 billion estimated to be paid by the tobacco companies during the first 25 years of the agreement. Many states established dedicated funds to receive at least part of the payments. Other states passed legislation to ensure that payments are used to supplement existing state funds, enacted laws governing the future use of the payments, established voter approved initiatives to decide how to allocate the payments, and created special commissions to develop recommendations and long-term plans for the payments. The types of programs that states tended to fund were tobacco control and health care.