Oklahoma has received more than $75.9 million as its annual tobacco settlement payment, state Treasurer Ken Miller announced Wednesday. The money came from the tobacco industry, with 75 percent going directly into the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund, he said. The remainder is made available for appropriation by the Legislature.
The trust fund now has a balance of more than $647 million, said Miller, who serves as chairman of the trust fund’s board of investors.
The fund was created by a voter-approved amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution in 2000.
Only the fund’s earnings – not its principal – may be spent on programs to improve the health and well being of Oklahomans.
Since June 2001, almost $82 million in earnings have been certified. More than $18 million in earnings were certified last year.
In August 1996, Oklahoma became the 14th state to file a lawsuit against tobacco companies, asking for restraints against the industry and monetary damages for state funds spent treating smoking-related illnesses.
The national Master Settlement Agreement, announced in November 1998, imposed sweeping changes in tobacco advertising, banned tobacco companies from targeting children, allocated funding for tobacco-education efforts and provided annual payments based on the number of Winston cigarettes sold in the country.
The total of payments over 25 years was projected to be in excess of $206 billion, and payments will continue as long as cigarettes are sold.