States to Tobacco: We'll Take It

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NEW YORK: When it comes to fighting Big Tobacco, it's probably best to take the money and run. In a unanimous decision, 46 states (the remaining four have already reached individual agreements) have joined a $206 billion settlement with the Big Five cigarette makers, signing away their right to sue in exchange for educational and smoking-cessation programs, a ban on cartoon camels and other kid-friendly ads -- and, of course, the money.

TIME Wall Street columnist Daniel Kadlec says it may not be over yet for tobacco companies -- as was the case last time, the federal government could still jump in and queer the deal with extra punishments -- but for the states, this one was a no-brainer. "My view has always been that the states should take the money and stop messing around. This is a public health issue -- the longer they fight in the courts, the more people are going to die in the meantime." And $206 billion in the hand is a whole lot better than waiting for a jury of your peers to write you a check.