Oklahoma receives US$77.2M in annual payment from tobacco industry under national Master Settlement Agreement; state has received US$1.16B since payments began in 1999

OKLAHOMA CITY , April 22, 2014 (press release) – State Treasurer Ken Miller today announced receipt of $77.18 million in annual payments from the tobacco industry under the national Master Settlement Agreement. With the latest receipts, Oklahoma has received a total of $1.16 billion since payments began in 1999.

Miller said 75 percent of the annual payment, or $57.89 million, went immediately into the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund as mandated by the Oklahoma Constitution.

"This money is being invested to generate funding for the vital work supported by the tobacco trust, including cancer research and combating tobacco addiction," said Miller, who chairs the trust fund's board of investors. "Oklahomans wisely voted to ensure these funds are protected to generate investment income to improve the quality of life for our people."

This year's payment brings the trust fund balance to more than $991 million.

The remainder of the annual payment is divided between a fund used for health care-related appropriation by the Legislature and the attorney general's evidence fund.

The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund was created by a voter-approved constitutional amendment in 2000, which specifies that only the earnings from the trust fund may be spent on programs to improve the health and well being of Oklahomans, particularly children and senior adults.

Since June 2001, more than $190 million in earnings have been certified. Earnings of $39 million were certified last year.

In August 1996, Oklahoma became the 14th state to file a lawsuit against the tobacco companies, asking for restraints against the industry and monetary damages for state funds spent treating smoking-related illnesses.

The national Master Settlement Agreement, announced in November 1998, imposed sweeping changes in tobacco advertising, banned tobacco companies from targeting children, allocated funding for tobacco education efforts and provided annual payments based on the number of cigarettes sold in the country. Payments will continue as long as cigarettes are sold.

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