In what a dissenting justice called a “fundamental shift,” the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday issued a ruling that likely will make it harder for many plaintiffs suing tobacco companies about smoking-related illnesses.

Cut Backs In Smoking Hits Florida Tobacco Settlement Revenues

Florida likely will see lower-than-expected revenues from a landmark settlement with the tobacco industry because fewer people are smoking or smokers are cutting back.

Florida likely will see lower-than-expected revenues from a landmark settlement with the tobacco industry because fewer people are smoking or smokers are cutting back.

State economists on Friday released a report that lowered projected payments over the next decade from the 1997 settlement.

“Overall, expected payments have been lowered largely because of the changes in the long-term view of cigarette usage,” the report said.

The report pointed to a forecast last month that cigarette sales would decline by 2.5 percent annually over the next decade.

The decline had earlier been projected between 1.44 percent and 1.75 percent. The report also said tobacco-manufacturer payments were $1.7 million less than anticipated for the recently completed 2021-2022 fiscal year.

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Economists had projected $413.8 million in payments, but the year-end total is now estimated at $412.1 million.

The economists, meeting as the state Revenue Estimating Conference, also revised anticipated payments for the coming years.

After earlier projecting $426.2 million in revenue during the current fiscal year, which began July 1, the state is now forecast to receive $403.9 million through the settlement. Similarly, the projection went from $442.5 million to $417.9 million for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

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