OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — November marks the 15th anniversary of the landmark agreement that ended a lawsuit against big tobacco companies by 46 states, including Oklahoma.
The 1998 lawsuit sought to end the tobacco industry's practice of marketing an addictive and deadly product to children. The states sued the tobacco industry to expose deceptive tobacco industry practices and recover costs to the states for smoking-related illnesses.
Many states used their settlement payments to fill budget holes, but Oklahoma protected tobacco settlement payments and used them for programs and grants to improve health.
Since the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust began funding grants in 2003, youth smoking has been cut in half and adult smoking is at a historic low. So far, payments to the state have exceeded $1 billion.