Mississippi was one of only five states appropriating all tobacco payments to health care last fiscal year, according to a recent report by the National Conference of State Legislatures' Health Policy Tracking Service. Lawmakers vow to do the same in fiscal year 2005.
The report found that 39 states allocated a portion of their tobacco settlement money to health care in fiscal year 2004. Mississippi, Arizona, Oregon, South Carolina and Wyoming were the only states that allocated all of their funds to health care that year.
Attorney General Mike Moore in 1994 became the first state attorney general in the nation to sue tobacco companies to recover public costs of treating sick smokers.
Mississippi settled its case in 1997 and will receive about $4 billion over 25 years, with payments continuing as long as tobacco companies exist.
Legislators established a health care trust fund for the tobacco settlement money in 1999.
Some of the state's money has gone to augment Medicaid's budget and to implement the Children's Health Insurance Program.