Around 2004 to 2005, I was feeling quite alone and was ready to call it quits as the Anti-Smoking movement was not answering my questions. Simple questions really. “If tobacco is really as bad as we all were saying, and if we know the science was genuine, if we know 30% of kids will smoke and start as teens, if we know current laws are NOT enforced, why NOT just ban tobacco altogether”? Answer,” too much to lose financially and politically” Not real profound! Everyone knows that.
Apparently, I was not the only one asking these questions. I received a call from Sam Kazman who was the lead counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in D.C. He told me they had filed a lawsuit against the Tobacco Deal as the Master Settlement Agreement had been renamed. I learned what it entailed and wasn’t surprised at the reactions of my peers in the Anti-Tobacco movement and Government participants. Things were coming together rather quickly. I learned that the MSA (Tobacco Deal) was a mercenary strike led by the Attorney Generals who rented out each states sovereign authority to private lawyers who were cut in on the take. It’s complicated in theory, but simple in logic. Lawsuits were massive in numbers in many states against the tobacco industry and Big Tobacco wanted a deal. The stage was being set for the National Tobacco Cartel to be established.
Nine (9) Attorney Generals and the 4 Tobacco Giants that controlled 99% of the tobacco market retreated to behind closed door meetings and emerged in 1998 with a 245 page SETTLEMENT….after 4 states sued to reimburse medical costs that the states paid for medical treatment within each individual state. The payout for those four states was around 40 Billion Dollars. Doesn’t take much of an economist to figure out proportionately, that 46 more states would sue and the payouts would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 Billion Dollars . That wasn’t good. What went down from there was unimaginable……..as the remaining 37 non-participating Attorney Generals were given 7 days (that’s all) to review the settlement and sign off on the Tobacco Deal. The Attorney Generals would DROP ALL LAWSUITS and in exchange the Tobacco Industry would pay the states for the next 25 years. The tobacco Deal was really not a settlement, but a tax.
The deal makers gave every state a choice…..it could pass the implementing statute precisely as dictated, without any modification or addition…..OR they would lose billions in settlement monies. Faced with those terms the states did as they were told. Once the Cartel was in place it could only be changed by unanimous consent from all states. For example, if Pennsylvanians hated the deal they would get nowhere by voting out their AG’s and/or Legislators. They would have to vote out ALL other AG’s and Legislators in ALL states. What sets this apart is that it bypassed and neuters the system of checks and balances we call, or use to call Constitutional Government. Congress never approved the Tobacco Deal, nor did any Court. The deal was done by private parties acting on their own account. Those who were present in the room benefited spectacularly at the expense of smokers and smaller tobacco companies who were not privvy to this forced payout and ultimately shut out. The MSA (Tobacco Deal) was not the first public policy arrangement to break promises or to favor the Wealthy or be tainted with cronyism or be built on bogus promises. to enforce the restrictions of the deal it had to be written into law.
As I mentioned in earlier blogs the lawsuit was based on the facts that this was unconstitutional according to the Compact Clause of the Constitution which is Article 1, section 10, clause 3……..”No state WITHOUT CONSENT OF CONGRESS will enter into any agreement with any other state”. Well they did. Even though, according to the CEI lawsuit the MSA also violated the 10th Ammendment by forcing state to impose the sales tax and by delegating state enforcement powers to the NAAG. (National Association of Attorney Generals) it was still too premature for the opponents of the MSA to celebrate. Louisianna, where the suit was filed, moved to dismiss the lawsuit, by saying the CEI failed to allege a monopoly claim; that the MSA does not impose a nationwide sales tax, but merely individual state sales taxes; and the parties are free to limit the exercise of their constitutional rights by contract, which is what happened with the MSA. Federal District Court Judge S. Maurice Hicks handed it off to a federal magistrate ( an Asst. Judge)-sort of to analyze. The magistrate recommended dismissing the case completely. Judge Hicks “inclined to agree” but declined his recommendation because of a ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in a similar case.
By the way, on March 7, 2011 The United States Supreme Court declined to hear the lawsuit. The case was in the courts for over 5 years. I’m wondering how many citizens of the United States ever had a clue that this was going on? Not many according to my experience. You mention the Master Settlement Agreement to someone and they look at you like you have a third eye in the middle of your forehead. Media didn’t cover much of what I have laid out. The coverup was not only incredible to watch, it was even more difficult to explain. The simplest of questions went unanswered.
The key to this 3 Stooges Movie, is that so much more could have been done under the guise of Tobacco Control and Public Health if they wanted to. They chose the path of corruption, deception and greed. They chose to cover up their deceit by going after the smoker(s) and tobacco users for their own gain. Now they would have funds for at least the next 25 years and employment would continue for The American Legacy Foundation, The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kiddies, and anyone else in so – called Tobacco Control. Any opposition to this new development, by state govenments would de-fund Huge Projects (Institutions) and cost jobs and would embarrass all the participants in this debacle. My days were numbered and I began to develop my Exit Strategy. It was no longer about justice for the kids, the smokers, the nation…….it was only about them and money and politics which DESPISE.
How does one fight such a huge machine? I guess for me, you just lie in wait and hope that someone or something who is smarter and more educated than I would come forward to watch “my back”. They didn’t and never would. I’ve been told by a few that things would turn around. Too little, too late in my humble opinion.