25 years after the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement and new products have changed everything

Twenty-five years ago, Idaho, along with 51 other states and territories, signed the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (TMSA) with the four largest tobacco companies in the U.S. This lawsuit recovered the billions of dollars in health care costs related to smoking and tobacco related diseases, as well as putting restrictions in place for things like youth targeted advertising and sponsorship. In 2000, Idaho created the Millennium Fund, to put those funds in an account to be invested and each year a percentage is used for tobacco education, prevention, and cessation throughout the state. This has worked for years, and helped reduce smoking rates in Idaho and the disease and addiction caused by tobacco.

However, given these settlements and funding programs were started in 1998-2000, things have changed significantly since then. With the introduction and evolution of electronic tobacco and nicotine products and devices, and the rise of synthetic nicotine, and the many social and cultural changes that have taken place in the past 25 years, it might be time to rethink how we use Millennium Fund dollars to help prevent a new generation of addiction.

thumbnail_alt_text===a pie chart cut up by 3 colors, yellow for e-cigarette use, green for cigarettes and blue for chewing tobacco

None of these new electronic products fall under the provisions of the MSA, particularly where it comes to youth targeting for marketing and advertising. So, many small vape company startups followed in the footsteps of the tobacco companies and used all the new tools available- social media, influencers, and other new strategies to appeal to youth. Beyond the targeting strategies, these products have thousands of appealing fruit flavors, are much easier to hide from parents and teachers, and don’t have the stigma and long history of traditional commercial tobacco products like cigarettes and chew. And now we have new challenges, just like the same old challenges. Considerable increases in youth addiction and resulting health issues. However, we now have tools to combat these challenges, and we have evidence-based research that supports policy and funding measures to reduce youth initiation.

We will be working with members of the Joint Millennium Fund Committee, the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee, and the Senate and House Health & Welfare Committees through the fall and into the 2024 Legislative Session to ensure they understand the magnitude of the problem, and which policies and programs will help us solve it.

If you are interested in helping support these efforts, or want to learn more and get involved, or share the information in your community, please reach out to our Advocacy and Grassroots Team!




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