San Francisco Gets First Taste of Tobacco Money
San Francisco on Wednesday finally cashed in on its historic settlement with the tobacco industry.
Attorney General Bill Lockyer presented City Attorney Louise Renne and Mayor Willie Brown a $13.9 million check, the first installment in a 25-year, $586 million payout by cigarette makers to the city.
"Goodbye Joe Camel and hello to a new day," Renne said at a City Hall news conference.
San Francisco launched its legal battle with the tobacco industry in June 1996. Its suit, City and County of San Francisco v. Philip Morris Inc., 96-2090, accused the tobacco industry of targeting minors, of hiding the fact that tobacco smoking is addictive and of manipulating nicotine levels.
The city was joined by Los Angeles, San Jose, and 15 California counties. The suit was settled in November 1998 as a result of a multi-state agreement with the tobacco industry.
The settlement guaranteed California $12 billion, which will be distributed to all 58 counties and to the state's four largest cities.
"This suit has changed the behavior of the tobacco companies. They no longer can target children in the same way that they have in the past," said Lockyer. "I want to acknowledge San Francisco for initiating this suit against the Philip Morris company."
The city is expected to receive another $10 million in April and between $17 million and $23 million in each of the following years.
A large portion of the settlement will be used to rebuild Laguna Honda Hospital, under the terms of a local initiative passed in November. Each year, $1 million is set to be used for tobacco prevention and education programs.
Renne touted San Francisco's efforts to take the lead in suing cigarette makers. "We were the city," she said, "that the tobacco companies feared the most."