Study: Tobacco Settlement Was About Money, Not Justice

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:19 PM EDT

( - Two years after the states won a huge settlement against the tobacco companies, very little of the $246-billion settlement is being used to fund anti-smoking programs and to reimburse taxpayers for tobacco-related health care expenses, a new study shows.

In its two-years-later analysis, the National Taxpayers Union found that 41 percent of the settlement has been used by various states for health-related purposes, which don't always involve smoking.

A recent study by the General Accounting Office confirms the misuse of tobacco funds, said NTU.

"Two years ago, the states attempted to justify their lawsuit by promising that this money would be used to reimburse taxpayers for societal costs related to tobacco use and to discourage future tobacco use," said NTU analyst Sayeh Daee. "Instead, tobacco companies have been exploited as an easy source of revenue by big-spending politicians eager to fund their pet projects," she said.

Those projects include new college scholarships, flood control, teen pregnancy programs, and remodeling schools. "But they are all contrary to the advertised intent of the tobacco settlement," noted Daee. And she warns that taxpayers will be left footing the bill for these programs long after the tobacco settlement money has been spent.

"This just confirms that the lawsuit against big-tobacco had nothing to do with justice and everything to do with money," Daee said.

The National Taxpayers Union advocates lower taxes and it guards against wasteful government spending.