“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (2) – 4/13/20
In 1998, Montana joined all 50 states in suing Big Tobacco for deceptions as to the long-term, detrimental health effects of smoking. Over the last 22 years, those companies have withheld some $43 million in payments to Montana, and on April 13 Attorney General Tim Fox filed a lawsuit seeking the immediate transfer of those funds. “No one gets to take money from Montana’s citizens, particularly when that money is owed for serious corporate wrongdoing, and especially when that money is intended to keep Montanans safe and healthy,” Fox said in his announcement. “The $43 million these tobacco companies have wrongfully withheld could have been used to prevent Montanans from developing lung diseases that now make them potentially more susceptible to COVID-19, or insure more of our children earlier and longer. It is unconscionable that more Montanans could live healthier lives if it weren’t for the intentional deception of these companies.” Montana’s portion of the Master Settlement Agreement, which was intended to fund smoking cessation and prevention programs, pales in comparison to the roughly $440 million spent annually on tobacco related healthcare costs in Montana, reports KXLH.