November 23 marks the anniversary of the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Now, 15 years later, Lincoln County is benefitting from some of the money the tobacco companies are required to pay each year to the states.
The agreement settled a dispute between the four largest tobacco companies and 46 states, along with five U.S. Territories and the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs had taken the tobacco companies to court over deceptive marketing practices, and wanted to recoup their huge monetary losses related to the health effects of tobacco.
The agreement requires the tobacco companies to pay the states a total of about $10 billion per year. The Nebraska State Legislature allocates some of its share to fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs, including Tobacco Free Lincoln County coalition (TFLC), which operates under Community Connections. George Haws is coordinator of TFLC. He said the coalition:
- Encourages residents to keep their homes and vehicles smoke-free.
- Conducts tobacco prevention programs with children and teenagers.
- Gives guidance to apartment owners and managers who want to establish smoke-free policies
- Refers tobacco users who want to quit, to helpful resources.
The allocation is administered by Nebraska Dept. of Health & Human Services through the Tobacco Free Nebraska program. They fund nine coalitions across the state, including Tobacco Free Lincoln County.
“Tobacco use rates have dropped steadily in the last 50 years, but tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.” said Haws.
More information can be found on the Community Connections Web site at www.CommunityConnectionsLC.org, under the link for Tobacco Free Lincoln County. People can go to the site to sign a pledge to keep their homes and vehicles smoke-free. The sites also includes a list of companies that offer smoke-free apartments in North Platte and Lincoln County.