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The Tobacco Deal

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  • Paul Klemperer
  • Jeremy Bulow

Abstract

We analyse the major economic issues raised by the 1997 Tobacco Resolution and the ensuing proposed legislation that were intended to settle tobacco litigation in the United States. By settling litigation largely in return for tax increases, the Resolution was a superb example of a win-win deal. The taxes would cost the companies about $1 billion per year, but yield the government about $13 billion per year, and allow the lawyers to claim fees based on hundreds of billions in damages. Only consumers, in whose name many of the lawsuits were filed, lost out. Though the strategy seems brilliant for the parties involves, the execution was less intelligent. We show that alternative taxes would be considerably superior to those proposed, and explain problems with the damage payments required from the firms, and the legal protections offered to them. We argue that the legislation was not particularly focused on youth smoking, despite the rhetoric. However, contrary to conventional wisdom, youth smokers are not especially valuable to the companies, so marketing restrictions are a sensible part of any deal. The individual state settlements set very dangerous examples which could open up unprecedented opportunities for collusion throughout the economy, and the multistate settlement of November 1998 is equally flawed.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 1999-W11.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 1998
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:1999-w11

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  1. Sumner, Michael T & Ward, Robert, 1981. "Tax Changes and Cigarette Prices [An Alternative Approach to the Analysis of Taxation]," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1261-65, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Rosemary Avery & Donald Kenkel & Dean Lillard & Alan Mathios, 2007. "Regulating advertisements: the case of smoking cessation products," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 185-208, April.
  2. Klemperer, Paul, 2000. "Why every Economist should Learn some Auction Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 2572, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Sandeep Dahiya & David Yermack, 1999. "Wealth Creation and Destruction from Brooke Group's Tobacco Litigation Strategy," New York University, Leonard N. Stern School Finance Department Working Paper Seires 99-050, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business-.
  4. Ciliberto Federico & Kuminoff Nicolai V, 2010. "Public Policy and Market Competition: How the Master Settlement Agreement Changed the Cigarette Industry," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-46, July.
  5. DeCicca, Philip & Kenkel, Donald & Liu, Feng, 2013. "Excise tax avoidance: The case of state cigarette taxes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1130-1141.
  6. Delipalla, Sophia & O'Donnell, Owen, 2001. "Estimating tax incidence, market power and market conduct: The European cigarette industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 885-908, May.
  7. Paul Klemperer & Ken Binmore, 2001. "The Biggest Auction Ever: the Sale of the British 3G Telecom Licences," Economics Series Working Papers 2002-W04, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  8. Wei Tan, 2006. "The Effects of Taxes and Advertising Restrictions on the Market Structure of the U.S. Cigarette Market," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 231-251, 05.
  9. B. Coestier & E. Gozlan & Stephan Marette, 2003. "La responsabilité des entreprises et le risque d'obésité," THEMA Working Papers 2003-42, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  10. John Tauras & Richard Peck & Frank Chaloupka, 2006. "The Role of Retail Prices and Promotions in Determining Cigarette Brand Market Shares," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 253-284, 05.
  11. David Cutler & Jonathan Gruber, 2001. "Health Policy in the Clinton Era: Once Bitten, Twice Shy," NBER Working Papers 8455, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Robert A. Ritz, 2008. "Cost pass-through under delegation," Economics Series Working Papers 404, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

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