Master Settlement Agreement, 1998

Court cases over regulatory laws culminated in the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between major tobacco companies (Philip Morris, R. J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, and Lorillard) and the attorney generals of forty-six states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories. It was the largest civil litigation settlement in U.S. history, and resulted in the tobacco companies paying billions of dollars of fines in annual installments. The settlement restricted outdoor, billboard, and transit advertising of cigarettes; prohibited targeting people under eighteen (including cartoons in cigarette advertising); limited advertising, marketing and promotion of cigarettes; restricted corporate sponsorship by tobacco companies; and funded anti-smoking initiatives and campaigns. It also required the dissolution of the Tobacco Institute and other industry “research” groups.

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