Master Settlement Agreement

The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) is an accord reached in November 1998 between the state Attorneys General of forty-six states, five U.S. territories, the District of Columbia and the five largest tobacco companies in America concerning the advertising, marketing and promotion of tobacco products. In addition to requiring the tobacco industry to pay the settling states approximately $10 billion annually for the indefinite future, the MSA also set standards for, and imposed restrictions on, the sale and marketing of cigarettes by participating cigarette manufacturers.

Among its many provisions, the MSA:

  • Forbids participating cigarette manufacturers from directly or indirectly targeting youth;
  • Imposes significant prohibitions or restrictions on advertising, marketing and promotional programs or activities; and
  • Bans or restricts cartoons, transit advertising, most forms of outdoor advertising, including billboards, product placement in media, branded merchandise, free product samples (except in adult-only facilities), and most sponsorships

Over the years, the states have collected record amounts of tobacco revenue, but are spending less of it on tobacco prevention programs.  According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which tracks state tobacco prevention spending vs. state tobacco revenues, only one state to date – North Dakota—currently funds a tobacco prevention at even half the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Key Resources – MSA Background

Key Resources – MSA Revenue

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