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America Reaches Major Anti-Smoking Milestone

In Decade Since the Master Settlement Agreement, Cigarette Consumption has Decreased By More than One-Fourth

WASHINGTON,Nov. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New data from the federal government show that cigarette consumption in the U.S. has decreased by an estimated 28 percent, or 135 billion cigarettes, over the past decade, which marks a major milestone in public health and tobacco control, according to the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and the American Legacy Foundation(R) - the nation's largest public health foundation dedicated to reducing tobacco use in the U.S.

Ten years after the state Attorneys General negotiated the landmark 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with tobacco companies, cigarette consumption has continued to decline and the landscape around tobacco use has shifted significantly. With November 23, 2008 marking the anniversary of the signing, the MSA should be recognized for the enormous impact it has had on cigarette consumption, the groups said.

"This settlement continues to send a strong message to the tobacco companies: Americans won't tolerate the marketing of this deadly product to our young people," said NAAG Tobacco Committee Co-Chair and Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna. "As a direct result of the work of the nation's attorneys general, today's kids are less exposed to pro-tobacco marketing like Joe Camel. Kids who still want tobacco products face ever-increasing roadblocks to obtaining them."

The Attorneys General point out that in the years immediately prior to the states' settlement agreements with the tobacco companies, cigarette sales in the United States had reached a plateau. By contrast, the ten-year decline in cigarette sales of 28 percent since the MSA is unprecedented.

According to data from the U.S. Tobacco Tax Bureau of the U.S. Treasury, the tobacco industry sold 480.5 billion sticks in 1997, compared with sales of 344.4 billion sticks projected for 2008. Additionally, cigarette consumption in 2007 (360.5 billion sticks) declined by five percent from 2006 levels (379.5 billion sticks). That reduction marks the largest one-year percentage decrease in cigarette sales since 1999. The data and projections are based on calculations by the NAAG'S Tobacco Project using Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau data combined with cigarette import data from U.S. Customs.

"The Master Settlement Agreement placed significant restrictions on the advertising and marketing practices of the tobacco companies, and also provided funding for an effective anti-smoking public education campaign targeted directly at youth," said Cheryl Healton, Dr. P.H., President and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation. "These new numbers conclusively demonstrate that the combination of these two factors -- together with the hard work of the Attorneys General and the public health community -- has resulted in a major reduction in smoking rates since the MSA was signed."

One of the MSA's most important public health contributions was the creation of a national public health foundation dedicated to reducing tobacco use in the United States. Funding negotiated by the states created the American Legacy Foundation(R) with the mission to build a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Legacy has invested approximately $600 million inthe nation's most successful youth smoking prevention campaign, truth(R). The campaign, known for its edgy advertising and nationwide summer grassroots tour, has been credited with 22 percent of the overall decline in youth smoking during its first two years (from 2000-2002), according to an article published in the March 2005 edition of the American Journal of Public Health. Since then, a number of other studies have further reiterated the efficacy of the truth(R)campaign and its impact on youth's attitudes and behavior toward tobacco use.

The broad array of restrictions on the advertising, marketing and promotion of cigarettes outlined in the MSA included prohibiting the targeting of youth in cigarette advertising. The agreement also prohibited outdoor advertising of cigarettes and the advertising of cigarettes in public transit facilities, as well as the use of cigarette brand names on merchandise, and a host of other restrictions. Furthermore, the payment provisions of the MSA were designed to compensate the states in part for the billions of dollars in health care costs associated with treating tobacco-related diseases under state Medicaid programs.

"In the ten years since the Master Settlement Agreement, we have made great strides in improving public health throughout the nation. Not only have consumption rates dropped steadily, which will eventually result in less disease and increased longevity, but by decreasing the number of smokers in our country, we will also see a long-term impact on overall healthcare costs," said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who also serves as Co-Chair for the NAAG Tobacco Committee.

As advocates for the public interest, Attorneys General across the country are actively and successfully working to enforce the provisions of the MSA to reduce tobacco use and protect consumers from its deadly toll.

"While this is great news for public health, there is still much work to be done. Forty-three million Americans still smoke and 3,900 youth try smoking every day. We must continue this fight and engage more of the public health community, including the states, in funding tobacco prevention programs," Healton added.

Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States; tobacco use continues to kill more than 400,000 American each year.

The American Legacy Foundation(R) is dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation develops programs that address the health effects of tobacco use, especially among vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco, through grants, technical assistance and training, partnerships, youth activism, and counter-marketing and grassroots marketing campaigns. The foundation's programs include truth(R), a national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as contributing to significant declines in youth smoking, EX(R), an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting, research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use, and nationally renowned program of outreach to priority populations. The American Legacy Foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. Visit

The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) was founded in 1907 to help Attorneys General fulfill the responsibilities of their office and to assist in the delivery of high quality legal services to the states and territorial jurisdictions. NAAG's mission is: "To facilitate interaction among Attorneys General as peers and to facilitate the enhanced performance of Attorneys General and their staffs." NAAG fosters an environment of "cooperative leadership," helping Attorneys General respond effectively - individually and collectively - to emerging state and federal issues.

The American Legacy Foundation(R) is equipped with a VideoLink ReadyCam(TM) television studio system, providing you with faster, easier access to the nation's leading tobacco prevention and cessation experts. From this in-house broadcast studio, Legacy can offer immediate access to its experts to comment on breaking news, new research publications, or any news related to youth smoking prevention, adult quit smoking programs, or any issue related to smoking. The studio is connected directly to the Vyvx fiber network and is always available for live or pre-taped interviews. To arrange an interview using the ReadyCam, please contact Julia Cartwright at 202-454-5596.

SOURCE American Legacy Foundation
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