ALBANY, N.Y. – New York reached a settlement agreement Tuesday with major tobacco companies that will release $550 million to New Yorkers that has been trapped in an escrow account during a decade-long dispute, according to the attorney general’s office.
The agreement unlocks the stranded funds and permanently addresses serious issues that have prevented disbursement of funds owed to New Yorkers following the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), which requires the companies to compensate the 52 states and territories – including New York – for the public-health costs of smoking-related illnesses.
The agreement settles all issues concerning past annual payments under the MSA by requiring the companies to release 90 percent of the escrowed funds, or approximately $550 million.
About half of the funds will go to New York State, one-quarter to New York City and one-quarter to counties outside the city.
“Big Tobacco must pay for the damage it has done and continues to inflict on communities across New York State,” said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. “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. Today’s announcement is long overdue, but sure to be welcomed by communities and municipalities across our state.”
Nearly $11 million will go to Westchester County and $3 million to Rockland County, according to lohud.
The state, New York City and the counties outside the city will receive their portions as soon as the MSA’s independent auditor is able to make payment, which would be no later than April 2016.
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