June 06 2007 - Oklahoma receives supplemental tobacco payment
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson and State Treasurer Scott Meacham said Oklahoma received a supplemental $500,000 payment from the tobacco industry today, 75 percent of which went directly into the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund. Meacham's office confirmed receipt of a wire transfer in the amount of $490,213.75 from the trustee of the tobacco settlement funds. More than $367,000 was deposited in Oklahoma's Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund, which now has a balance of more than $380 million. Including today's payment, Oklahoma has received more than one-half of one billion dollars from the tobacco industry since 1998. The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund 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, particularly children and senior adults. 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 imposes sweeping bans on tobacco advertising, stops the tobacco companies from targeting children, allocates funding for tobacco education efforts and pays the states annual amounts 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. Payments will continue as long as cigarettes are sold. Oklahoma filed its lawsuit in August 1996, becoming the 14th state to file a lawsuit against the tobacco companies. The lawsuit asked for restraints against the industry and about $1 billion in damages for funds spent for treatment of smoking related illnesses. Oklahoma's share of the settlement is estimated to be $2.03 billion over the next 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. The counsel fees were paid by the tobacco industry and did not come from Oklahoma's share of the settlement.