Attorney General Hector Balderas
- Payment in excess of $54 million is the largest ever for New Mexico
SANTA FE – Attorney General Hector Balderas announced that Thursday New Mexico received the largest tobacco settlement payment to date, a total payment of $54,251,491.01.
In late March, the Balderas Administration announced there would be a record payment, in excess of $50 million, because the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) secured an additional $14.5 million after a judge agreed with the OAG that New Mexico was being shortchanged by Big Tobacco. The cigarette industry didn’t want to make the increased payments it owed to New Mexico, but could not identify any legal basis for stopping enforcement of a prior order obtained by the Office of the Attorney General for the extra $14.5 million.
In late March, First Judicial District Court Judge Ortiz issued rulings requiring Big Tobacco to make full payment or risk contempt of court.
“I will continue to aggressively hold Big Tobacco accountable for the harms cigarettes cause to New Mexicans, and our record payment of over $54 million for 2017 includes an additional $14.5 million we won for New Mexico,” Attorney General Balderas said. “At a time of severe budget shortfalls and economic crisis, this record recovery will ensure additional funds go to New Mexican children, Medicaid, HIV patients, and smoking cessation programs.”
The New Mexico Legislature has determined that tobacco settlement money should be spent primarily on healthcare and education, including the additional $14.5 million that the Office of the Attorney General has secured for 2017. The largest recipient of tobacco settlement money is Medicaid, and children make up nearly two-thirds of New Mexico’s Medicaid population. Other vital programs funded by tobacco settlement money include cancer screening, services for HIV patients, and smoking cessation programs.