WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - Jul 22, 2011) - The Native American Fair Commerce Coalition (NAFCC), a representative organization comprised of like-minded tribes and tribal members that are committed to protecting the sovereign rights -- well settled in US law -- of Native Americans to pursue business and economic opportunities for their tribes nationwide, has added its voice to the growing opposition to the proposed amendment of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (the "MSA").

The NAFCC has begun a campaign to encourage its 10,000 members to contact their State Attorney General or Governor's office and stop the proposed amendment, citing the original MSA, and the big tobacco company-proposed adjustments, to be "the worst kind of trade protection and discrimination," in a statement by NAFCC executive director Darold Stagner.

In 1998 the big tobacco companies purchased a significant business advantage from 46 states' Attorneys General. In exchange for payment from the tobacco companies, the states agreed to protect the tobacco companies from lawsuits from the participating states and also from individual classes of people within their states. To pay for this protection, the tobacco companies raised their prices and split the difference with the states. The tobacco companies were able to not only keep more money per pack, but they were also largely guaranteed that the states involved would not let their citizens sue the tobacco companies.

Said the NAFCC's Stagner: "The attorneys general were no doubt doing what they thought was best in 1998, but in hindsight they were clearly swindled. As it has worked out over the years, less than 25% of the settlement funds have been used for smoking cessation or health care costs. The state legislatures have been using that money in their general funds. Many states have even pledged future settlement funds against bond issues and other loans. This has created a perverse relationship where the states now need to do even more to protect the tobacco companies' revenue sources. In the midst of this economic downturn, the tobacco companies are again preying on the states' weakness. They know the states are desperate for money so the tobacco companies have proposed a revised deal. They want the states to put Indian tobacco shops out of business. Big tobacco is now seeking to force the states to collect cigarette taxes and settlement funds from Indian smoke shops, as well as Native owned manufacturers."

"Working together with the NAFCC, we are committed to preserving sovereign rights and nowhere is this more important than exposing the discriminatory and abusive practices of the major tobacco companies. The original tobacco settlement has harmed citizens in participating states and ended up benefitting only the tobacco companies. The time has come to end this one-sided trade protectionist scheme," said Lance Morgan, President and CEO of HO-Chunk, Inc., the economic development arm of the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska.

The Native American Fair Commerce Coalition urges all Americans to protect their freedoms. "When well-financed special interests like the tobacco companies can purchase a state sponsored monopoly; it's time for everyone to speak up," said Stagner.

Contact Information:

SSA Public Relations
Elliott Chang

(818) 907-0500