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Enforcing Tobacco Laws

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office plays a role in fighting the devastating consequences of tobacco use on the local, state and national level.

At the national level: Attorney General Tom Miller was a leader in the 1998 multi-state Master Settlement Agreement that resulted in the tobacco industry paying billions of dollars to the states. Iowa’s share of the settlement is estimated at $1.7 billion. The settlement also contains important health measures that were strongly sought by Attorney General Miller, including public health restrictions on the advertising, promotion and marketing of cigarettes by the tobacco companies. Since the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, cigarette sales in the U.S. have fallen by more than 21%. Total cigarette sales are now at a level comparable to 1951, when the population of the country was less than half what it is today.

Tom Miller continued his work by serving for several years as Co-Chair of the Tobacco Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General, where he continued to work to enforce youth-targeting, advertising and payment issues under terms of the Master Settlement Agreement. The states also have been working to seek voluntary agreements from major retailers to restrict the sale of tobacco to minors, and to urge the movie industry to address the issue of tobacco use in movies.

At the state level: Tom Miller was one of the first public officials in the state to endorse and support an increase in the cigarette tax because of its proven benefit in reducing smoking, especially youth smoking. He has been a strong supporter of Iowa’s tobacco control program since its inception, and he continues to argue for increased funding for the program.

Attorney General Miller also has been an advocate for clean indoor air — arguing strongly to repeal the preemption provisions in the Iowa clean indoor air law. His office issued the “Attorney General’s Report on Secondhand Smoke,” which provides communities with useful information on the subject. His office partnered with others to initiate a program to encourage Iowa hospitals to adopt 100% tobacco-free campuses.

The Attorney General’s Office also enforces state laws pertaining to tobacco companies that are not parties to the MSA.

At the local level: The Attorney General’s Office has provided technical assistance and support to local communities on tobacco issues, particularly in regard to secondhand smoke. The office also plays a crucial role in enforcing state laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors, both directly and by working with local officials.

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