Tobacco settlement funds misused, Ohio judge rules

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Sept. 7, 2009

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An Ohio judge ruled that state funds from a 1998 nationwide settlement with tobacco companies must be used for what they were intended, namely prevention and cessation programs.

The lawsuit, filed by a state-established foundation that oversees the tobacco money, alleged lawmakers in their 2009 budget illegally diverted some of the state's $230 million settlement funds to pay for other projects.

The Franklin County Court of Common Pleas agreed in an Aug. 11 ruling that blocked the state from transferring the money. The court said depleting the funds "would result in a substantial increase in tobacco-related premature death and disease in Ohio, and a substantial increase in medical expense."

Gov. Ted Strickland is appealing the ruling, and maintains he and the Legislature have the authority to appropriate the funds as they see fit.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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