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Attorney General Lockyer Announces the Extinction of Cigarette Billboards in California

Master Settlement Agreement Prohibits All Outdoor Advertising
Friday, April 23, 1999
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SACRAMENTO) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that all tobacco billboards in California are now history.

"For decades, the tobacco industry used manipulative advertising to hook generations of children on their lethal products," Lockyer said. "The replacement of these shameless ads with an anti-tobacco message will help our children to live longer, healthier lives. The end of tobacco product advertising on billboards is just one of many victories from the tobacco settlement."

Under the terms of the multi-billion-dollar tobacco settlement, all cigarette billboards in California must be removed by today and turned over to the state for alternative advertising intended to discourage the use of tobacco products by youth. Throughout California, a total of 366 billboards are being made available for anti-smoking messages.

In December of 1998, the San Diego Superior Court approved the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) resolving lawsuits filed against the tobacco industry by 46 states, including California, the District of Columbia and four territories. Under the settlement, tobacco companies are banned from promoting their products through billboard advertising outdoors, in shopping malls, arenas, stadiums and video arcades. In California, advertising space already leased by tobacco companies is being turned over to the state Department of Health Services for anti-smoking messages.

The tobacco industry also agreed to pay the settling states more than $206 billion over the next 25 years. California will receive about $1 billion per year, or 12.8% of the settlement money in perpetuity. State and local jurisdictions will split equally California's share of the settlement money.

The MSA imposes major restrictions on tobacco company marketing practices and takes substantial steps toward reducing the advertising aimed at teenagers. The MSA provides the following restrictions on tobacco companies:

* Direct or indirect targeting of youth in advertising, marketing and promotions - banned 11/23/98;

* Brand name sponsorship of (1) concerts, (2) sports events, (3) events with an intended audience having a significant percentage of youth, and (4) events with paid participants who are youth - banned 11/23/98;

* Access by youth to free samples of tobacco products - banned 11/23/98;

* Payments for placement of tobacco products in the media - banned 12/23/98;

* Outdoor advertising of tobacco products - banned 4/23/99;

* Transit ads, on or in public or private vehicles - banned 4/23/99;

* Using cartoons to advertise tobacco products - banned 5/22/99;

* Tobacco brand-name merchandise - banned 7/1/99.

The Attorney General's Office represented the State of California in the tobacco litigation and settlement and will maintain staff and resources dedicated to enforcing the terms of the Master Settlement Agreement.

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