15 Years Later, Where Did All The Cigarette Money Go?
by NPR Staff
October 13, 2013 5:52 PM
Fifteen years after tobacco companies agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines in what is still the largest civil litigation settlement in U.S. history, it's unclear how state governments are using much of that money.
So far tobacco companies have paid more than $100 billion to state governments as part of the 25-year, $246 billion settlement.
Among many state governments receiving money, Orange County, Calif., is an outlier. Voters mandated that 80 percent of money from tobacco companies be spent on smoking-related programs, like a cessation class taught in the basement of Anaheim Regional Medical Center.
"So go ahead and take a minute or two to write down reasons why you want to quit and we'll talk about them in just a bit," Luisa Santa says at the start of a recent session.
Every year since 1998, this program has been funded by money from the tobacco settlement. The five-part class is free for anyone living or working in Orange County. When they sign up, participants get a "quit kit" full of things like toothpicks and gum. And, if they come for at least three of the five sessions, they get a free two-week supply of nicotine patches.