The Tobacco Settlement
20 Years Later
StateAG.org’s The Tobacco Settlement: 20 Years Later commemorates the historic fight against big tobacco and the men and women who led these efforts on behalf of the states.
Tobacco Settlement Audio Archive
Interviews with State AGs and Their Deputies
June 20, 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the landmark settlement by several states with the four largest tobacco companies. Led by Mississippi AG Mike Moore, this was the first of several settlements secured by a bipartisan coalition of state AGs who sued the tobacco companies to recover smoking related health-care costs, including Medicaid expenses. A year later, the companies and remaining states and territories executed the historic Master Settlement Agreement (PDF).
In the years following the settlement with big tobacco, many oral and written histories have been produced on events leading up to the final agreement. But the story of how the agreement came together – with all of its twists and turns – has never been told by the people who were in the room.
With the 20th anniversary of these historic settlements upon us, StateAG.org will collect on this site the words of those AG’s and their senior staff who made it happen.
What follows is their story.
Arizona Attorney general Grant Woods (speaking), along with Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore (2nd-R), Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger (R) and others speak to reporters during a news conference 20 March in Washington, DC, to discuss a settlement with the tobacco company the Liggett Group, Inc. Liggett admitted for the first time that cigarette makers knew of the dangers of smoking, and settled expensive litigation in 22 states.
Tobacco Industry Settlement Press Conference
Coalition of State Attorneys General
June 20, 1997
Led by Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore, attorneys general from a number of states announced a settlement reached with the tobacco industry.
The settlement created a trust fund to pay for medical costs resulting from tobacco addiction and ended the suits by several states and individuals for payment of such medical costs. The settlement also prohibited class action law suits against tobacco companies in the future.
Press conference begins at 00:47.
Thomas H. Green, III served as the First Assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts from 1992 to 1998 under Attorney General Scott Harshbarger. Tom was appointed by General Harshbarger to lead Massachusetts' efforts in the tobacco lawsuits. Massachusetts became the fifth state to join the litigation.
In December 1998, the National Association of Attorneys General awarded Tom the NAAG President's Distinguished Service Award for his work nationally on the state tobacco litigation and settlements.
Tom has a B.A. in government from Harvard College and J.D. and MBA degrees from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, respectively.
Christine 'Chris' Gregoire served as Governor of the state of Washington from 2005 to 2013 and, before that, as Attorney General of Washington for three terms, from 1993 to 2005. During that time, she served as President of NAAG and led her AG colleagues in initiatives in the areas of consumer protection, civil rights, and antitrust, and was a key leader of the negotiating team for all attorneys general on the tobacco case. Prior to that time, Chris worked for many years as Director of the Washington Department of Ecology and as an assistant attorney general specializing in cases of child abuse.
Chris was raised in Auburn, Washington, by her mother, who worked as a short-order cook to support the family. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and received a J.D. degree from the law school at Gonzaga University. She and her husband Mike have two daughters both of whom are attorneys.
Grant Woods served as the Republican Attorney General of Arizona from 1991 to 1999, during which time he served as a leader on many consumer, civil rights, environmental and criminal justice initiatives.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Occidental College and Arizona State University College of Law, Woods now practices as a highly successful trial lawyer in Phoenix where he and his family are involved in a host of public service efforts.
Woods is also a successful song writer and playwright.
Harvard Business Review
Michael A. Wheeler, Georgia Levenson
Harvard Business Review CASE STUDY
Published: July 30, 1998
Chronicles the negotiation of the proposed national settlement between the states and the five major U.S. tobacco companies.
Tobacco Control Legal Consortium
The Master Settlement Agreement: An Overview (2015)
Tobacco Control Legal Consortium
Public Health Law Center
This fact sheet provides answers to several common questions about the largest civil litigation settlement in U.S. history, the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).
From Tierney in the Press
* Three black and white photos above from Carrick Mollenkamp, Jeffrey Rothfeder, Adam Levy, and Joseph Menn, The People vs Big Tobacco (Princeton, NJ: Bloomberg Press, 1998).