State Receives Additional Tobacco Payment
Attorney General Drew Edmondson and State Treasurer Scott Meacham said Oklahoma received an additional $3.8 million from the tobacco industry yesterday, 75 percent of which went directly into the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund (TSET).
Meacham’s office confirmed receipt of a wire transfer in the amount of $3,813,142.50 from the trustee of the tobacco settlement funds. More than $2.8 million was deposited in Oklahoma’s TSET fund, which now has a balance of more than $562 million.
TSET was created by a voter-approved amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution in 2000, which specifies that only the earnings from the trust fund may be spent on programs to improve the health and well-being of Oklahomans. To date, the fund has generated more than $63 million in earnings, including $18 million last year alone.
In August 1996 Oklahoma became the 14th state to file a lawsuit against the tobacco companies, asking for restraints against the industry and monetary damages for state funds spent treating smoking-related illnesses. Oklahoma sought about $1 billion in damages.
In November 1998, Edmondson and seven other attorneys general announced they had, on behalf of the states, negotiated a historic settlement with big tobacco. The settlement imposed sweeping changes in tobacco advertising, banned the tobacco companies from targeting children, allocated funding for tobacco education efforts and provided the states annual payments based on the number of cigarettes sold in the country. The total of payments over 25 years was projected to be in excess of $206 billion, and payments will continue as long as cigarettes are sold.
Oklahoma’s share of the settlement is estimated to be $2.03 billion over 25 years. An additional $268 million was awarded to the state for the strategic contribution Edmondson, his office and local counsel made to the prosecution of the lawsuit. Attorney fees were paid by the tobacco industry and did not come from Oklahoma’s share of the settlement.