Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore Releases New Tobacco Settlement Information at AARC's 1999 International Respiratory Congress
LAS VEGAS, Dec. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- During the American Association for Respiratory Care's (AARC's) 1999 International Respiratory Congress in Las Vegas yesterday, Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore announced that for the first time in U.S. history th
``There has been a 14 percent decrease in consumption of cigarettes in this country since we've settled our cases,'' Moore said. ``[This is] the biggest decrease in history. It will probably save many, many lives.'' Moore said that some may attribute the decrease to price hikes on cigarettes across the country. However, he believes the tobacco settlement provided a driving force behind the lower consumption rates and calls the decrease a tremendous victory for their efforts.
The fight to make the tobacco industry responsible for the public health effects of cigarette smoking began in early 1993 when Moore began working on a lawsuit against the giant industry on behalf of Medicaid.
This year, as a result of Moore's efforts and years of litigation against the tobacco industry, states were awarded a $246 billion settlement. But even as Moore boasts of the success, he notes his frustration over the way the money is being divvied up by individual states.
``I thought we won,'' he said. But instead of spending the money on public health programs that will educate people about the hazards of tobacco use, Moore explained that states are deciding to spend the funds on other issues. He said that he has taken this issue personally and is on a mission to urge members of the community, particularly respiratory therapists and other health care providers, to take action.
``I am frustrated because what I hear is that the states in this country... are going to take the proceeds of a tremendous public health victory and give people tax cuts and build highways,'' Moore said. He added that he recently learned that in North Dakota they are using settlement funds to build a morgue.
``If this was indeed the most important public health litigation in history,'' he said, ``[States should] spend the money on what the fight was about!''
Moore reminded attendees at the International Respiratory Congress that the purpose behind the fight for the settlement was to improve public health and to prevent our children from ever taking up the habit of smoking. ``If one penny of this money is spent in a way that doesn't improve the public health of this country or doesn't protect the children of this country from the scourge and addiction of tobacco,'' he said, ``then shame on us!''
Moore, whose wife is a respiratory therapist, said he came to the AARC Congress to enlist the support of respiratory therapists. ``The mission I am on is a mission to get the states to spend the money on what the fight was about,'' he reiterated.
Addressing more than 2,000 respiratory therapists who attended the keynote address, he said, ``Folks, you are where the rubber meets the road.... Who is it that understands the damage caused by tobacco more than a respiratory therapist? Who can speak with conviction about the problems that tobacco causes and the need for more resources... to improve the public health and to provide better care for patients? Who better than a respiratory therapist or respiratory care giver can talk about the need for [smoking] cessation?''
The respiratory therapists who attended Moore's address and the thousands of other Congress attendees at the Las Vegas meeting convened to experience the latest in respiratory technology and education. The AARC's International Respiratory Congress is an annual event focusing on continuing education for respiratory health care providers. The American Association for Respiratory Care is a 35,000 member professional association for respiratory therapists and other pulmonary care providers. The AARC serves as a political advocate on Capitol Hill for respiratory therapists and furthers the art and science of the respiratory therapy profession.