In 1994, the state of Minnesota joined with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota to bring a lawsuit against the tobacco companies. The suit accused the industry of deceiving Minnesotans about the harmful nature of tobacco products.
The state’s case would uncover tens of thousands of secret documents that revealed how much the tobacco companies had kept hidden about the link between cigarettes and cancer, the addictiveness of nicotine, and other inherent dangers of tobacco.
The trial went on for more than three months. In May 1998, the companies settled, with the state receiving $6.1 billion in a stand-alone settlement agreement and Blue Cross receiving $469 million.
In August of that same year, the Ramsey County District Court approved the state’s plan to administer 3 percent of the settlement through a new, independent, nonprofit tobacco control organization: ClearWay MinnesotaSM.
August 1994 – The state and Blue Cross sue tobacco companies for harming and misleading the public.
May 1998– The court requires the tobacco companies to pay $202 million into a fund for tobacco control work. This is used to create ClearWay Minnesota, a new independent nonprofit.
September 1998 – Our Board holds their first meeting, opened by honorary co-chairs Dr. C. Everett Koop and Dr. David Kessler.
April 1999 – Field work begins for the first Minnesota Adult Tobacco Study (MATS), examining tobacco-related behaviors and perceptions. Four MATS reports will be produced between 1999 and 2008.
August 2000 – Our first research grant is made. As of 2008, 65 grants, totaling $15.6 million, have been awarded. The same year, Moose Lake is the first Minnesota community to go smoke-free. Seventeen cities and counties will follow by 2007.
April 2001 – Our first TV ad airs.
May 2001 – We launch QUITPLAN® Services, providing quit-smoking services to Minnesotans free of charge. In the following years QUITPLAN Services will grow to included five programs.
April 2003 – We begin funding networks to address tobacco’s harm in diverse communities.
May 2005 – Our Leadership Institute for diverse communities convenes for the first time.
April 2006 – We announce that QUITPLAN Services has helped 7,803 Minnesotans quit in its first five years. Within a year, that number passes the 10,000 mark.
May 2007 – The Freedom to Breathe Act, Minnesota’s strong smoke-free law, is passed and signed by Governor Tim Pawlenty. The law takes effect in October of that year.
November 2008 – A Minnesota woman who quit smoking wins $5,000 in our quit-smoking contest, The QuitCash ChallengeTM
October 2008 – Dr. C. Everett Koop returns to Minnesota to celebrate our 10th anniversary.
December 2008 – A new report finds that the smoking rate of Chicanos Latinos in Minnesota is lower than that of the general population.
February 2011 – A new Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey finds that Minnesota’s adult smoking rate has fallen to 17.1 percent – the lowest in history. The CDC features the findings in a national publication.