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New Mexico sues tobacco companies over settlement payments

Cigarette smoking continues to decline as taxes on tobacco rise.
Gerald Herbert
/
AP
Cigarette smoking continues to decline as taxes on tobacco rise.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is suing more than a dozen tobacco companies, accusing them of conspiracy and breach of contract. Attorney General Hector Balderas claims the companies have been withholding portions of annual payments that are due under a multi-state tobacco settlement that dates back to 1998. The settlement ended dozens of lawsuits that sought reimbursement for health care costs associated with smoking-related illnesses. New Mexico in a complaint filed Tuesday claims that the companies have been abusing a certain clause in the settlement agreement, resulting in an estimated $84 million being withheld over the last 14 years. The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.