– Legislation authored by Rep. Tim Twardzik (R-Schuylkill) to protect hundreds of millions of dollars in promised monies from the landmark 1998 Tobacco Settlement Agreement may be signed into law as early as next week. The agreement was the outcome of a 46-state lawsuit against major tobacco companies to recoup health care costs of smoking-related illnesses.
The Twardzik bill amends one of the tobacco enforcement statutes to ensure the legal obligations are met and the Commonwealth continues to be eligible for full payments. The measure is considered a major victory for public health funding. Moneys are earmarked for health research, hospitals, tobacco use prevention and cessation, and medical assistance for workers with disabilities.
“This legislation protects the hundreds of millions of dollars Pennsylvania receives from tobacco companies” said Twardzik. “There’s good work happening to prevent the public health costs linked to abuse of tobacco products. This isn’t about the freedom to smoke or use tobacco, but making sure we have the resources to keep communities healthy.”
Twardzik worked with Attorney General Michelle Henry’s office to design a legislative solution that preserves funding. Twardzik’s bill, House Bill 1209
, and its companion, House Bill 1407, ensures the Commonwealth will continue to receive money from the 1998 tobacco settlement, which is projected to generate $369 million.
“This critical piece of legislation ensures tobacco companies keep their promises to make payments that will fund health care for Pennsylvanians and promote cessation and prevention initiatives,” Henry said. “Protecting Pennsylvanians was top priority when my office participated in crafting a law that will be beneficial for years to come.”
Twardzik’s House Bill 1209 was passed unanimously by the House in June and by the Senate in September. The bill will now be sent to Gov. Josh Shapiro to be signed into law.