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A $21,941,333.51 Addiction

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Utah, along with most other states, got its annual tobacco fix recently. Utah’s share of the latest distribution of tobacco settlement money was $21,941,333.51.

It almost didn’t happen!

Tobacco giant Philip Morris said it could avoid bankruptcy and make its payment to the states, only if an Illinois judge drastically cut a $12 billion dollar bond the cigarette manufacturer was required to post in yet another class-action lawsuit.

That’s exactly what the judge did, but only after Utah’s Attorney General, along with colleagues in three-dozen other states, intervened in behalf of Philip Morris.

Think of it! Here’s the state of Utah supporting Big Tobacco because it needs the promised money to balance the budget. And down the funding pipeline, you’ll find tobacco prevention programs, cancer fighting institutions and health departments ironically dependent on the money to sustain ongoing programs.

At least Utah, unlike a number of other states, has avoided bonding against expected future tobacco distributions. Lawmakers here have chosen to use the money mostly for health related needs, although this year they funneled nearly $10 million into the General Fund.

Yes, whether you smoke it, chew it or get hooked on the money it brings in, tobacco is terribly addicting.

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