Koster reaches deal to restore $50 million from tobacco settlement

Chris Koster, Missouri attorney general | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Chris Koster, Missouri Attorney General | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Attorney General Chris Koster said Monday that he has reached a deal with major tobacco manufacturers to restore $50 million in lost tobacco settlement proceeds to Missouri, but it is contingent on action from the legislature.

Koster said the state will get the money back plus an additional $11 million annually beginning in 2020, as long as lawmakers this session tighten laws on smaller companies that didn’t sign the original settlement.

The dispute is over money guaranteed to Missouri and 45 other states through a 1998 settlement with major tobacco manufacturers. It’s aimed at covering the costs of providing health care to people with tobacco-related illnesses. The state typically gets about $130 million annually.

Missouri lost $50 million after an arbitration panel decided the state in 2003 didn’t properly enforce part of the settlement requiring other tobacco companies that didn’t sign the 1998 agreement to pay into an escrow account. The state has appealed, and an appeal is pending with the Missouri Supreme Court.

Read more: Columbia Missourian, Missourinet

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