Tobacco lessons for opioid settlement fund investments: Maximizing the impact of Michigan’s opioid settlement funds

March 19, 2024

Tobacco cigarettes and opioid pillsIn the face of an opioid epidemic that claimed the lives of more than 112,000 people nationwide last year, Michigan has the opportunity to make a significant public health impact through the effective use of opioid settlement funds. This publication draws vital lessons from the tobacco litigation settlements of the late 90s, offering a roadmap for leveraging the multi-billion-dollar opioid settlements in a manner that addresses the opioid crisis at its core.

Despite the initial success of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement in imposing restrictions on the tobacco industry, the use of settlement funds has been marked by missed opportunities. This publication outlines the similarities and differences between tobacco and opioid litigation settlements, emphasizing the crucial need for a cohesive, evidence-based approach in utilizing the over $1.5 billion expected from opioid settlements in Michigan. Central to this discussion is the strategy for the effective use of opioid settlement funds, with at least 85% of the funds dedicated to opioid epidemic abatement.

The opioid settlement is a chance for Michigan to learn from past mistakes and seize the opportunity to create a robust, cohesive system for addressing opioid use disorder. Through detailed analysis and recommendations, this publication provides a blueprint for state and local governments to learn from the past while they navigate the complexities of the opioid settlements, ensuring that funds are allocated in a way that truly makes a difference in the lives of Michiganders affected by the opioid epidemic.