Big blues snuff tobacco's flame

Pharmaceutical Representative

The tobacco industry settled one of several lawsuits that have been brought against it by various state governments and health plans.

The tobacco industry settled one of several lawsuits that have been brought against it by various state governments and health plans.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, which was the first health plan in the country to file against the tobacco industry back in August 1994, will receive $469 million over a period of five years. The settlement is $9 million more than what the company sought.

The settlement also covers past and future liabilities for Blue Cross's fully insured members, as well as all of Blue Cross's legal fees.

"This is the beginning of the end of the tobacco epidemic that has devastated so many lives," said Andy Czajkowski, the company's CEO. "This settlement provides for significant public health initiatives and tobacco industry reforms that will forever change the way big tobacco does business in Minnesota."

The settlement included several public health provisions. It bans marketing tobacco products to children, bans promotional items that bear the names of cigarette brands, bans direct mailings from cigarette manufacturers into Minnesota and bans cigarette billboard advertising within Minnesota.

Other reform provisions include public access to 33 million internal tobacco industry documents in Minneapolis and Guilford, England; and halt of operations at the Council for Tobacco Research. The tobacco industry will be responsible for costs associated with these reform provisions.

Blue Cross announced that it will use a share of the settlement's proceeds to fund research into more effective tobacco prevention methods, new clinical treatments and cessation programs. It will also use some proceeds to make cessation programs more available to its members.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota insures more than 1.8 million plan members. It is Minnesota's oldest and largest health plan. PR