Our attorneys at the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium have recently received a deluge of questions from people throughout the U.S. asking if they are eligible to receive payments from the tobacco industry or their state as part of the Master Settlement Agreement. Many of these questions are from those who have experienced pain, suffering, and loss associated with tobacco use and who learned from social media or elsewhere of the purported availability of MSA payments to individuals. The claims about MSA payments – and a host of other potentially misleading claims – are promoted online by a company called Money Morning, which offers investment advice. The ad is actually a solicitation, which appears targeted primarily towards retirees and is framed as an “opportunity” for individuals to claim “a tax-free portion of this settlement,” even if neither they nor anyone in their family has smoked. The apparent purpose of the ad is to solicit annual “Private Briefing memberships,” which are essentially subscriptions to e-newsletters and market reviews promoted by this investment consulting firm.
Please be aware that the ad’s information about MSA payments to individuals appears to be a deceptive attempt to make money from individuals already harmed by tobacco use and exposure. There are no provisions in the MSA that would require the tobacco companies or any state to pay individuals for their loss. The proper authorities are aware of these advertisements (read the recent press releases from the West Virginia Attorney General, the Nevada Attorney General, and the Washington State Attorney General). If you wish to make a complaint about them, please consider forwarding any information you have received to the consumer protection division of your state’s attorney general’s office.