Skip to Main Content

Master Settlement Agreement Between Tobacco Companies and State Governments

You may remember the cigarette ads from the 1950s and 1960s encouraging consumers to smoke. In recent years, however, these ads have been rare. There are now ads encouraging teens and young people to avoid lighting up altogether. Smoking rates have decreased dramatically as a result.

While the tobacco companies have been in denial for decades, there’s no denying that cigarettes cause cancer, lung diseases and even death. In fact, tobacco companies have faced numerous wrongful death lawsuits over the years from surviving family members of those who died from their cigarette addiction.

There are now restrictions on how cigarettes are advertised, thanks to the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). This refers to a November 1998 agreement reached by 46 states, the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories and the five largest tobacco companies in the country. The agreement limits how the tobacco companies can advertise and promote cigarettes and other tobacco products.The tobacco companies must also pay the states $10 billion a year until further notice.

The tobacco companies must abide by several restrictions. They include the following:

  • They are forbidden from targeting children, whether directly or indirectly.
  • They face significant restrictions on marketing, advertising and promotional activities.
  • They are banned from using marketing tactics such as cartoons, free samples (except in areas where only adults are allowed), outdoor advertising, transit advertising, product placement in media, sponsorships and branded merchandise.

How Tobacco Companies Have Responded to the Negative Health Effects of Smoking

It has been established in the 1950s that smoking directly caused lung cancer. Tobacco companies did not want to admit it, though, because it would cost them customers—and revenue.

In the 1960s, tobacco companies researched a safer alternative—a cigarette that would not cause cancer. Lawyers, however, told them to abandon the project, as this would imply that the previous cigarettes were dangerous. To address the health issue, the tobacco industry put warning labels on packs of cigarettes. This was a radical idea at the time, but it was done as a safety measure to prevent litigation.

Even in the 1970s and 1980s, the tobacco industry refused to believe there was sufficient proof that tobacco caused cancer. They would refute the evidence by claiming that there was no “clinical evidence” or “substantial evidence.” They would also say that nothing was “statistically proven” and that there was no “scientific proof.” Even today, the tobacco companies refuse to give a straight answer when asked if tobacco causes cancer.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

Tobacco companies have been fooling consumers for decades. Many people have been smoking for 50 years or longer and are now facing the consequences in terms of cancer and other potentially fatal medical issues.

If you were misled into thinking that smoking was harmless and you are now addicted and unable to quit, the tobacco companies could be held responsible. The team at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP is here to help you with your case. Our experienced personal injury lawyers will aggressively fight for your legal rights. Contact our team at (305) 371-2692 or visit us online.