Lung Association Disappointed
As States Approve Tobacco Deal
Statement of John R. Garrison,
November 20, 1998
The American Lung Association is disappointed that the states have settled
with the tobacco industry. The deal concedes far too much to Big Tobacco
and provides far too little to protect public health.
Fortunately, the war against the disease and death caused by tobacco
use is not over. Skirmishes continue on battlefields all across the nation.
From state house to courthouse, from city hall to the halls of Congress,
we have the tobacco industry on the run. The industry still faces lawsuits
from health insurance providers, labor union health plans, class actions
brought by injured smokers, and thousands of individual cases. Local ordinances
to provide smoke-free environments were only dreams a decade ago but are
becoming the norms today. Earlier this month, voters in Oregon and Maine
reaffirmed their smoke-free laws despite an onslaught of tobacco industry
cash that funded their opposition. The Minnesota settlement forced the release
of thousands of documents that have detailed a decades-long trail of deceit
by the tobacco industry. And, despite a multi-million-dollar misinformation
campaign by the tobacco industry, California voted to increase its cigarette
excise tax by 50 cents.
There also is growing recognition that Congress can no longer ignore
a product that kills more than 420,000 Americans and millions more around
the globe each year.
These successes energize the American Lung Association and its allies
as we pursue aggressive action at the state and local levels. The American
Lung Association will continue to lead this fight. We will work to ensure
that the Medicaid dollars the states recover through the settlement are
invested in protecting the public health and eliminating tobacco use.
It is unfortunate that the states have decided not to confront the tobacco
industry in the courts. But the American Lung Association will continue
its fight on the local, state and national levels to protect our children
from the deadly lure of tobacco.