Statement on the Tobacco Settlement
By Attorney General Charles M. Condon
November 20, 1998
As all of you know, the United States Congress failed to achieve a settlement of a
lawsuit against the five leading tobacco companies of America. After negotiations in
Washington ended abruptly, a number of states then attempted to achieve what the federal
government was unable to do.
In that context, I have been working with a large group of state attorneys general
in negotiating a settlement directly with the tobacco companies to reimburse the states
for the cost of tobacco-related illnesses. Today, after months of effort, we have a
proposed settlement on the table.
As Attorney General, my legal role largely ends with that acceptance.
It is now up to the Governor and to the General Assembly to decide whether to trigger the
legislative mechanisms required and what to do with the funds received.
However, as counsel to the State of South Carolina, I feel a
responsibility to make a recommendation of principle in the strongest terms possible.
These funds -- the $2.2 billion dollars designated for South Carolina
-- are reimbursements -- reimbursements to the taxpayers of our state for dollars already
It would be a terrible injustice if those funds were used to pay for
more government programs and more bureaucracy or to grow the government in any way.
Therefore, in making this announcement, I would also like to issue a
direct challenge to Governor-elect Jim Hodges. My challenge is this: Will you join me in
supporting the use of these funds only for the purpose of giving tax relief to the people
of South Carolina and not for more government spending?
Let's give this money back to the taxpayers. That could take the form
of car tax relief, income tax relief for seniors or simply a scheduled rebate to all
taxpayers. The point is we should pledge this money to tax relief only.
I hope Governor-elect Hodges will join me in making that pledge
--- End of Statement ---