Before I get into this I want to preface this article a bit. First I am NOT a lawyer nor am I a politician. Second I am an American and I love my country. Third those who do not stand up for their rights do not deserve them. Having covered that let’s get right to it…
What is the MSA? Likely most of us don’t even know or have forgotten the supposed “landmark agreement” reached in 1998. The largest class action lawsuit to date. The MSA, or Master Settlement Agreement, is legislation intended to limit big tobacco’s ability to market to children and to hold them financially responsible for the healthcare costs associated with smoking. Sounds great, right? On the surface I thought so too.
Pull back the blinds a bit and we can see that the MSA is not the blessing the American public was lead to believe it was. Under the MSA, in a nutshell, big tobacco companies are to pay a dividend to each of the 46 states who signed on based on the total sales of cigarettes within each of these states. In return these states would then drop law suits against the participating tobacco companies. Again this seems reasonable, at a glance.
The issue is that many states, looking at you especially California, projected sales for the year based upon the previous fiscal year’s numbers. Using these statistics they then sold bonds to gain access to the funds early rather than waiting for the payout from the tobacco companies. Much to the state government’s chagrin tobacco sales (namely cigarettes) have steadily been dropping, which results in lower MSA funds received by that state. Thus the state governments are fearful of defaulting on their loans. Combine this with the fact that big tobacco tied six states up in litigation for over ten years with claims that these six states were not diligently enforcing their end of the MSA and you can begin to see what a terrible settlement the MSA truly is. But wait….it gets better…
The MSA is in fact unconstitutional. Article 1, section 10 of the United States Constitution prohibits states from entering into agreements with corporations without the consent of Congress. There was never a vote regarding the 46 state Master Settlement Agreement. Moreover this settlement imposed a 246,000,000,000$ tax on the smoking populous. It did so in a subversive and obfuscated manner. Furthermore the MSA is supposed to guarantee that the state “protects” the four biggest tobacco companies from lower priced competitors who did not enter into the settlement.
Beyond this the states are often not spending their MSA funds on smoking cessation, antismoking awareness, and the treatment of smokers. Take Kentucky for example, one of the six states accused of not enforcing the settlement diligently, has dispersed funds toward agriculture and highways. Now don’t get me wrong, I think that those are necessary and rational expenditures, however they do not follow suit with the agreement. On top of that these expenditures have nothing to do with smoking prevention or healthcare.
So why aren’t things like nicotine gum or patches being included under the MSA? The answer there is quite simple, pharma companies pump massive amounts of funds through lobbyists into the system and thus get preferential treatment. Since the electronic cigarette industry is much smaller (though it is now a two billion dollar a year industry) than both the tobacco and pharmaceutical industry it will not receive the same passes that the aforementioned enjoy. This is why they want electronic cigarettes to fall under the MSA, it all ends in dollars and only makes sense to the powers that be, at the cost of the average citizen. It pains me to see that a dollar matters more than America’s health or keeping families together.
If I remember correctly it was a mere two percent tax on tea that lead to the Boston Tea Party and the events that followed. If we remain passive and do nothing we can expect 30% taxes on e-liquids and devices. For what? Just to line the pockets of big tobacco and state lawmakers? The cost we will pay is more than a financial one as well. We will pay with our health and the tears of the loved ones we leave behind due to health complications from smoking.
Smoking killed my grandfather, my grandmother, and helped to kill my mother as well. Aspire never wants to market to children and genuinely wants to help keep families together. Due to the nature of this situation I personally implore anyone reading this to join CASAA and actively take a stand against the continuing oppression of big tobacco. If we let them take this alternative away from us they happily will. We must rise as one and be heard. Thank you for your time and attention.