In 1997, Florida entered into a historic settlement with four major tobacco companies. Twenty years later, that agreement still requires these companies to make hundreds of millions of dollars in annual payments to the state. Recently, one of these companies, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, sold four popular cigarette brands to ITG Brands, LLC, but no payments are being paid to the state for the sales of these brands.
These brands accounted for approximately 17 billion cigarettes sold in 2016 alone and they continue to impose the very public health care costs that the settlement payments are intended to compensate.
This week, in an effort to recover millions of dollars of lost revenue, my office filed a motion against RJR and ITG to enforce the explicit terms of the tobacco settlement agreement. The sale of major, pre-existing tobacco brands to another company does not cause the payment obligations to vanish like a puff of smoke and I look forward to the state obtaining prompt relief.
Holding these companies responsible for the millions of dollars of missed payments will help make the state whole and ensure any future sale of brands covered under the 1997 agreement encompasses the obligations from that historic settlement.