Presentation to the New Mexico Tobacco Settlement Committee

September 8, 1999

Madam Chairwoman Beam, Honorable Co-Chairwoman Garcia, Distinguished Members of the New Mexico Tobacco Settlement Committee

My name is Scott Goold. I direct a tobacco-control coalition, We are not tobacco prohibitionists. We seek rational policy to control the epidemic created by tobacco use and tobacco poisoning. I thank you for allowing me to represent our organization in these proceedings.

I study health policy. I am thoroughly confused on this issue. In 1964, the federal government officially recognized the health hazards from smoking and tobacco use. This was 35 years ago. Over the past few years, every state in the nation reached a settlement with the tobacco industry. I am unaware of a time when all the 50 states unanimously aligned as they have on this issue.

There is complete consensus in our country that smoking, tobacco use and second-hand smoke present hazards to human health. I ask you then, "Why do we assist the tobacco companies in the promotion and marketing of their products?"

The terms of the Master Settlement Agreement allow the tobacco industry to continue marketing and promoting tobacco use. This is a privilege the State of New Mexico gives them. We are aware of Governor Johnson's activities related to the debate about the legalization of drugs. I ask you to look at the marijuana issue for moment. Current studies show approximately 11-12% of the nation uses marijuana. As a country, we spend billions to control this drug. We do not allow, nor do we tolerate, open, aggressive advertising or marketing of this product.

I use this example to illustrate that we do not have to allow advertising of products. Our federal constitution does not guarantee product manufactures a "right to free speech." Our first amendment applies to political speech, not commercial interests.

The individuals who volunteer for Tobacco stand united in opposition to the Attorneys General Master Settlement Agreement. We oppose this settlement because the agreement grants the tobacco industry the right to continue advertising, promoting and marketing their dangerous products. These activities directly affect our children. Today, 3,000 American youth will become addicted to tobacco. Over 80% of these youth are under the legal age to use tobacco. The settlement does not prevent this. Additionally:

  • Officials and the public were allowed only one week to review the initial proposal.
  • New Mexicans not of legal voting age, those under 18, were not represented in the political process. They and their children will live under the terms of the settlement.
  • We are fully aware of the tobacco industry's history of manipulation and deceptive practices.
  • Although New Mexico may receive a large amount of money, it does not cover the social costs associated with smoking, tobacco use, or tobacco exposure.
  • The settlement does not guarantee significant changes will occur to reduce the epidemic of tobacco poisoning. In fact, it may encourage the opposite.

Human Consequences
We ask the committee to focus on the human side of this social and political problem.

Today, one American dies every minute due to illnesses attributable to smoking, tobacco use or second-hand smoke from cigarettes.

We lose approximately 1,370 Americans each day from smoking-related causes.

Each day, 3,000 young people begin smoking. The majority of new tobacco industry recruits (89%) are under the legal smoking age of 18.

Over the course of the first 25 years of the proposed settlement, an estimated 13 million Americans will die prematurely from tobacco-related illnesses and disease. Over 75,000 New Mexicans will be among this group.

It is inconceivable that we tolerate the political and social policies related to tobacco use, smoking and second-hand smoke.

The MSA does not provide for strong enforcement terms. Brown & Williamson recently violated the tobacco billboard restriction. The posted a tobacco advertisement for six weeks. We could do little to end the activities. Apparently, the state is not empowered to demand restitution.

It is inconceivable that we tolerate the political and social policies related to tobacco use, smoking and second-hand smoke.

Promotional Activities
The MSA does not end promotional activities. We have full-service tobacco retailers near our public schools. We have new types of billboards promoting tobacco and smoking on our streets.

Retailers openly and aggressively promote these poisonous products. They force us to see these ads and solicitations. They "spam" us -- as well as our children.

Our research recently uncovered a new method of tobacco promotion. It is secret, surreptitious and unannounced. Tobacco companies refer to this strategy as Trend Influence Marketing. The tobacco industry actively works to increase the coolness and acceptability of smoking. They work underground. They use subversives or moles. This violates all principles of "truth in advertising."

Financial Aspects
The financial costs associated with smoking are enormous. It is impossible to account fully for all costs. In 1996, tobacco cost New Mexicans $432 million in direct and indirect costs with $48 million for Medicaid support alone. Direct expenditurs include the health care costs incurred due to smoking related illness including hospitalization, health practitioner fees, pharmacy, long term care and other expenses ($170.32 million).

Since 1964, the total Medicaid costs supported by New Mexicans, at a minimum, exceeded $1.3 billion. Over the next 25 years, New Mexicans will pay more than $4.3 billion to support Medicaid costs attributable to tobacco-related illnesses and disease. The settlement does not fully compensate New Mexicans even on the issue of Medicaid support.

More importantly, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now asks New Mexico to spend nearly a third of this money to fight the tobacco epidemic. The tobacco companies ask you to spend this money. I ask you, "Why should we spend this money to counter the actions of the tobacco industry?" They created the problem.

Controlling the Epidemic
I wish to point out that our organization supports fully the recommendations of the CDC. Yet, we believe the tobacco industry should fund fully this effort. We should not require the state of New Mexico or the citizens of New Mexico to resolve the tobacco industry's epidemic.

In Conclusion
We ask this honorable and distinguished committee to consider fully the state's option of rescinding the Master Settlement Agreement. We ask the State of New Mexico to negotiate a better deal for the people of this great state.

We also request this committee to consider broad and comprehensive social policy related to tobacco. Our suggestions include:

  • Require the tobacco industry to compensate New Mexico fully for the costs associated with the tobacco epidemic;
  • Implement fully the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control;
  • Require the tobacco industry to fund fully this program implementation;
  • Increase the legal age for tobacco use to 21 years of age;
  • Institute penalties for underage possession, distribution and use of tobacco products. Our youth must accept partial responsibility in this endeavor;
  • Increase the penalties for distribution of tobacco products to underage youth;
  • Protect fully children, teens and nonsmokers from second-hand cigarette smoke; and finally,
  • Mandate the tobacco industry to act responsibly and ethically in all its activities.

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