ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York is expected to get $550 million as part of a tobacco deal.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the money will be released from an escrow account, ending a decade-long dispute with tobacco companies under the 1998 agreement requiring they compensate states for public health costs from smoking.
Under the agreement, the companies have been able to withhold a portion of New York’s nearly $800 million annual payments and require arbitrations on keeping a portion, arguing the state failed to properly enforce it with other manufacturers.
“Big Tobacco must pay for the damage it has done and continues to inflict on communities across New York State,” Schneiderman said. “My office will continue to hold these companies accountable for the burden their addictive, deadly products impose on the taxpayers of this state, and we will act to ensure that the people of New York are compensated for the enormous harms they have suffered.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement applauding Schneiderman “for standing up to big tobacco and making them pay.”
“For too long, New Yorkers have been paying the price for the harm tobacco use has on human health,” de Blasio said. “Big tobacco companies have abused the legal system to avoid giving New Yorkers the money they’re owed for the health costs resulting from cigarette smoking.”
The attorney general’s office said 90 percent of previously withheld funds will be released by next April, while the manufacturers will get a discount on future payments expected initially to be less than $100 million a year.
The discount will be tied to sales of cigarettes made and sold untaxed on Indian reservations to New Yorkers.
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