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The Cigarette Restitution Fund: What is it?
In the late 1990’s, attorneys from nearly every state in the U.S. brought suit against America’s cigarette manufacturers. They sought reimbursement for the huge costs to states incurred due to smoking-related diseases like cancer. Months of testimony, including evidence that the manufacturers had known for many decades the deadly and addictive nature of their product, were presented. In the end, the court ruled in favor of the states, slapping the nation’s major cigarette manufacturers with $53 billion in penalties. The award, known as the Master Settlement Agreement, was split between 46 states, including Maryland, five territories, and Washington, D.C.
In 1999, Maryland’s Governor Parris N. Glendening and the General Assembly were among the first of their lawsuit counterparts to use their award establishing the multi-million dollar Cigarette Restitution Fund (CRF). State leaders have continued to allocate funds throughout our state for smoking-cessation programs and education, crop conversion assistance for tobacco farmers, cancer research, prevention, education, screening, and treatment, and other smoking and cancer-related initiatives.
A major component of the CRF was the creation of the Statewide Academic Health Center grant, through which cancer research funds for the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins were appropriated. Grant funds under this initiative support translational research and are aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality due to the seven targeted cancers- breast, cervical, colon, lung, melanoma, oral and prostate- in Maryland.