Leading Organizations Applaud Arbitration Ruling Related to Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement

American Lung Association of the Northeast, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and American Heart Association say Maine has been a leader in tobacco enforcement and cessation rates, however, more work remains as smoking rate decline has stalled in recent years

(September 13, 2013)

The American Lung Association of the Northeast, American Heart Association and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network were pleased to learn of the arbitration ruling yesterday in Maine's favor concerning enforcement of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). The decision will result in an increase of approximately $5 million in Maine's next annual tobacco settlement payment. Currently, Maine only funds tobacco control efforts at 50% of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended level. The Lung Association, Heart Association, and the Cancer Society Cancer Action Network look forward to working with the legislature to ensure that the funding received as a result of this ruling is used entirely for tobacco control, bringing us closer to the level recommended for an effective program.

The arbitration was related to the state's 2003 non-participating manufacturers (NPM) payment adjustment which allowed for a payment reduction if states did not provide "diligent enforcement" of statutes against NPMs ensuring that tobacco companies party to the MSA were not unfairly disadvantaged.

"Maine has been a leader in tobacco control and implementing the Master Settlement Agreement. We are pleased the arbitration recognized the enforcement efforts of state government," said Ed Miller, Senior Vice President for Policy with the American Lung Association of the Northeast. "We have successfully partnered with state and local agencies to drastically reduce the prevalence of tobacco use in Maine over the last fifteen years. However, we have more work to do and must continue our efforts of implementing evidenced-based smoking prevention and cessation polices as the decline in smoking rates has stalled in recent years," Miller continued.

"We know that tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of disease, disability and death and that polices to increase the cost of tobacco and enforcement of smoke-free air laws are proven ways to encourage individuals to stop smoking cigarettes or prevent them from starting. As the arbitration decision shows, Maine has diligently enforced the Master Settlement Agreement, however, we must continue to enhance our policies to even further reduce tobacco consumption," added Hilary Schneider, Maine State Government Relations and Advocacy Director of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

"The American Heart Association is grateful for yesterday's decision related to the Master Settlement Agreement. Maine has been extremely successful in reducing smoking rates since the settlement, however, the rate of decline over the last few years has become stagnant. To continue Maine's success in smoking cessation rates we must ensure that we have a well-funded, comprehensive tobacco control program. Our goal should be to utilize tobacco settlement funds to fund 100% of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommended level for state tobacco control funding," commented Becky Smith, Maine Director of Government Relations for the American Heart Association.

Legal activity related to the non-participating manufacturers adjustment is not over. The Maine Attorney General's office is currently in the very early stages of the arbitration process related to the 2004 payments.