A new prospective piece by Dr. Cheryl Healton, dean of the New York University College of Global Public Health was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) titled “The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement – Strategic Lessons for Addressing Public Health Problems.”
Gun violence, obesity, and the misuse of opioids and alcohol are responsible for roughly 374,000 deaths — 15 percent of all deaths — each year in the United States. To protect the public from harmful products, legal action can be used against industries, one example of which — a settlement with the tobacco industry — offers useful lessons for confronting several of today’s public health epidemics.
In this article, Dr. Healton discusses the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the tobacco industry and 46 state attorneys general, five territories, and Washington, DC. As the largest legal settlement ever executed in the United States, the Master Settlement Agreement reduced smoking rates, saved lives, and was deemed a victory for public health.
“Given its success, the agreement has enormous promise as a model for similar litigation or settlements that could hold industries accountable when they knowingly deceive and injure consumers with their products,” Dr. Healton writes.
Dr. Healton continues the conversation in an interview with the NEJM on the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement and opportunities for action against other industries that harm health.
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Read and download Dr. Healton’s perspective piece
Listen to Dr. Healton’s full interview