Master Settlement Agreement (MSA)

Master Settlement Agreement

1998 – 46 States and the tobacco companies agreed to a Master Settlement Agreement (MSA)

In 1998, the 46 states that had not already settled with the tobacco companies, as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, entered into a Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) originally between the four largest United States tobacco companies (Philip Morris Inc., R. J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard) and the attorneys general of 46 states. In exchange for recovery of their tobacco-related health-care costs, the states settled their Medicaid lawsuits against the tobacco industry. The agreement also exempted the companies from private tort liability regarding harm caused by tobacco use.

The MSA set limitations on the companies:

  • Restricted cigarette advertising, sponsorship, lobbying and litigation particularly activities that were seen targeting youth
  • Disbanded the Tobacco Institute and the Council for Tobacco Research, two public relations enterprises that for half a century were devoted to spreading disinformation and doubt about the link between cigarette smoking and cancer
  • Made available to the public industry documents that had been disclosed during litigation
  • Established the American Legacy Foundation, which is responsible for campaigns like “The Truth”.
  • Mandated annual payments to the states totaling more than $200 billion

View a copy of the Master Settlement Agreement.