The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) was signed by cigarette manufacturers and the states’ attorneys general in 1998.

This national settlement resulted in much higher cigarette prices. That price hike and the accompanying educational programs that warned people of the hazards of using tobacco products caused consumption to decline.

The decrease in tobacco use continues today at the rate of about 3 percent annually. As a direct result of this settlement, the economies of North Carolina’s tobacco-dependent communities were adversely affected. The Golden LEAF Foundation and the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission were established to help our communities weather the economic storm, and hopefully, recover.

By the terms of the MSA, North Carolina is expected to receive annual payments totaling approximately $4.56 billion from participating manufacturers over the first 25 years of the agreement, years 2000 to 2025. The original vision of Bill Friday and the foundation’s board was to allow Golden LEAF funds to accumulate and serve as a nest egg for North Carolinians. Only the interest would be spent in serving the needs of our state’s citizens in the form of grants for worthwhile projects.  

Many recent benefits to our communities have been realized from worthwhile projects. The just completed Western North Carolina livestock marketing facility enjoyed an overwhelming opening day, generating immediate private sales and income. Through foundation quick action, North Carolina was able to immediately help agriculture respond to the drought of 2007-2008.