Attorney General Sam Olens has announced a multi-state agreement with four major tobacco companies that settles a 10-year dispute regarding payments under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). Today’s agreement will provide Georgia approximately $56 million in 2013 and ensures continued payments in the future.

“This settlement is important for Georgia, particularly in this challenging budget environment,” said Olens. “Under the terms of the settlement, we avoid the possibility of costly litigation and the potential loss of the entire annual MSA payment.”

In 1998, the major tobacco companies agreed to pay states more than $200 billion over 25 years to settle lawsuits over the health care costs related to smoking. For the past ten years, there has been a dispute between the tobacco companies and the states over portions of the payments.

Since 2003, Georgia has received approximately $1.5 billion from the four largest tobacco companies. Approximately $150 million in payments would be at risk annually by continued arbitration.

On December 17, 2012, the settlement was agreed upon by 17 states including, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. The states were joined by the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.