Monday, May 11, 2009

Attorney General Koster announces an additional $155 million in tobacco-settlement money for Missouri

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's Office Press Release

--Again, urges legislature to pass tougher laws
on foreign tobacco manufacturers--

Jefferson City, Mo. -- Attorney General Chris Koster today said Missouri received payments of $155,768,810.48 in tobacco-settlement money in April. This brings Missouri's total receipts from the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to $1,548,518,684.96.

"Governor Nixon and other Attorneys General struck an historic agreement with Big Tobacco in 1998," Koster said. "As Missouri's Attorney General I will continue to support this agreement and to encourage the state to continue providing resources from the settlement to prevent young people from using tobacco."

The Attorney General used the occasion to renew his call for the General Assembly to pass tougher legislation on foreign tobacco manufacturers. The other 45 states that participated in the settlement have since enacted additional laws to aid in their enforcement, particularly against foreign tobacco manufacturers that are difficult to prosecute. Although bills were introduced in both the House and Senate this session, for the fifth time in seven years, Missouri has failed to enact the additional enforcement legislation.

Missouri currently faces a national arbitration on whether the state diligently enforced its laws relating to the 2003 settlement payment, and will likely face similar challenges for each subsequent year. A ruling against Missouri could result in the potential loss of the state's annual settlement payments of approximately $140 million for years to come.

"Let me be clear, the potential exists that Missouri could lose its share of its tobacco-settlement dollars if the national panel finds that Missouri failed to diligently enforce its laws. If this were to occur, it would be one of the greatest wastes of public resources in recent history," Koster said. "I urge the legislature to take action, particularly against foreign manufacturers of contraband cigarettes."

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