In 1998, 46 states, Washington D.C., four U.S. territories and Puerto Rico sued tobacco companies for damages to human health from tobacco use, pointing out that companies had denied under oath before a congressional committee that tobacco use was not addicting. As a result, four tobacco companies entered into the Master Tobacco Settlement (MSA) with those entities.
Under the MSA, the tobacco industry pays the states $206 billion in the first 25 years of the agreement. The provisions of the settlement include a monetary award to each state based on the state’s population.
Since 2001, Arkansas has received approximately $50 million per year from the MSA. All the states, except Arkansas, spent their share on things like improving roads and security for loans. Arkansas is the only state that has spent the money on health care services, health education programs and health-related research.
Tobacco settlement revenue bonds were issued with the MSA for Capital Improvement Projects in Arkansas. Projects included construction of the UAMS Biosciences Research Building, the Arkansas State University Biosciences Research Building and the UAMS College of Public Health building.
The programs in Arkansas funded by the MSA were many and varied and continue today. The money primarily funds seven programs:
- The Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program at the Arkansas Department of Health, which also includes funding specifically for minority communities through the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Minority Initiative Sub-Recipient Grant Office;
- The Arkansas Biosciences Institute, which is a partnership between UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville;
- The UAMS Centers on Aging;
- The Tobacco Settlement Medicaid Expansion Program at the Arkansas Department of Human Services;
- UAMS East Regional Campus in Helena-West Helena;
- The Arkansas Minority Health Initiative; and
- The UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health.
The film documents, via oral history accounts, how the College of Public Health came into existence. It features interviews with key figures in the effort to bring the college from idea to reality, including former Governors Mike Huckabee and Mike Beebe.
The documentary was the culmination of the work of Joe Bates, M.D., M.S., associate dean for Public Health Practice in the College of Public Health; Ray Hanley, president and chief executive officer of the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care (AFMC); Carol Cassil, M.P.H., APR; Steve Shuler; and Anne H. Wasson.
Enjoy this fascinating look into the dynamics of politics at the intersection of government interests and the public good.
For a live viewing of the documentary, tune into the Society for the History of Medicine and Health Professions Facebook page on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m., where it will be aired as a special presentation.
The Society for the History of Medicine and Health Professions supports the mission and activities of the UAMS Historical Research Center, the unit charged with preserving the history of UAMS and of the health sciences in Arkansas. The society partially underwrote the production of this documentary with a grant to the AFMC.