Legacy was established in 1999 as part of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between the major tobacco companies, 46 US states, the District of Columbia and five US territories. The states requested that a portion of the money they received from the tobacco industry be used to establish and fund an organization primarily dedicated to studying and providing public education about the impact of tobacco in order to reduce its use and associated death and disease.

Legacy is that organization, and we continue to strive to live up to the standards inherent in this public trust. The following timeline outlines some of the accomplishments we’re most proud of. You can learn more about our current efforts throughout this site:



  • Legacy officially opens its doors with a mission to build a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. It is the first national public health foundation dedicated exclusively to tobacco control.



  • Legacy’s truth® youth smoking prevention campaign launches at a youth summit in Seattle, WA attended by 1,000 teens from across the country. Bold and edgy,truth’s iconic ads educate teens about tobacco products and the way they are manufactured and marketed, so that they can make informed decisions about their use.
  • Our grant-making program begins, providing the front lines with much-needed resources and support. Over the years, we have awarded more than $185 million in grants to community-based organizations, public health departments and centers, universities and foundations to reach people with life-saving resources in new and innovative ways.
  • Legacy’s Youth Empowerment Grants are launched in 19 states.



  • To help foster a new generation of tobacco control advocates, our Youth Advisory Panel, Speakers’ Bureau and Project 2030 youth activism efforts are established.
  • The Lorillard Tobacco Company begins to question the advertising for our truth campaign.
  • Legacy launches the Priority Populations Initiative, awarding grants to address the toll of tobacco in underserved populations. LERN – the “Legacy Evaluation Research Network” – starts issuing grants for tobacco research and publication. Through these efforts, Legacy helps ensure that all Americans, regardless of ethnic or socioeconomic status, have equal access to tobacco prevention and cessation services.
  • Our Great Start® campaign, which provides free quit-smoking counseling to pregnant women and features a popular cartoon baby mascot named Rupert, debuts in states across the country before its nationwide roll-out the following spring. Legacy conducts outreach to clinics and community centers to alert them to this free resource.



  • To address the high rate of tobacco-related disease among women, Legacy unveils its “Women & Smoking” initiative. The effort includes a series of ads called Letters, which feature stark black-and-white images shot by celebrated photographer Richard Avedon of real women suffering from illnesses caused by tobacco along with personal messages to their families.
  • Charging that many of truth’s ads violate the MSA’s restrictions on vilification and personal attack, Lorillard threatens Legacy with litigation. Legacy preemptively files a countersuit in the state of Delaware, where both Legacy and Lorillard are incorporated.
  • Our Circle of Friends: Uniting to be Smoke-Free program launches as part of the “Women & Smoking” initiative. The campaign encourages people to support women struggling to quit smoking and includes partnerships with like-minded organizations like Avon, as well as a high-profile advertising campaign featuring celebrities including Brooke Shields, Cicely Tyson and Jessica Simpson.



  • To address the lack of nationwide telephone quitline resources to help smokers quit, Legacy provides grants support to the Quitline Initiative to help fund state and territorial quitlines.
  • Legacy and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) unveil a permanent exhibit wall called “The Cigarette Papers” in the Kalmanovitz Library on the UCSF campus. “The Cigarette Papers” is a monument to the tobacco control movement in the United States, detailing a timeline of historically significant events and spotlighting important tobacco industry documents.



  • To help dispel some of the myths associated with the quitting process, Legacy introduces Bob Quits and Mary Quits, innovative campaigns that track two real-life smokers as they attempt to break their addiction to tobacco. Inspired by reality television, the campaigns feature four weeks of daily videos documenting Bob's and Mary's successes and setbacks and show viewers that even though quitting is difficult, it is possible.
  • Legacy’s Circle of Friends initiative partners with the New York Road Runners to present the New York Mini 10K, one of the premier road races for female runners. Legacy's support helps increase awareness of the mounting toll that tobacco-related disease has on women in the United States and raise funds for Legacy’s efforts. 



  • Research published in the American Journal of Public Health credits truth with 22% of the overall decline in youth smoking rates between the years 2000 and 2002, which translates to 300,000 fewer smokers in 2002.
  • The Chancery Court of Delaware rules in favor of Legacy in its litigation with Lorillard, holding that the truth campaign did not violate the MSA. Lorillard Tobacco Company appeals to the Delaware Supreme Court.
  • In partnership with the Ad Council, Legacy sponsors a new public health campaign to educate Americans, especially parents, about the dangers of secondhand smoke.
  • “Good Morning America” (GMA) and ABC affiliates in Houston, Miami, New York City, Pittsburgh and Washington DC team up with Legacy for the GMA Stop Smoking Challenge. As part of the effort, backpacks filled with useful tips and tools are distributed to smokers to help them quit.



  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report a stall in the eight-year decline in smoking prevalence among US adults.
  • Legacy launches EX®,an innovative smoking cessation campaign for adult smokers, in four pilot cities – Baltimore, Buffalo, Grand Rapids and San Antonio – to test the effort in anticipation of a national launch.
  • Legacy and the National Association of Broadcasters launch a national public service campaign called Code Blue for Lung Cancer to call attention to lung cancer, which is the nation’s number-one cancer killer.
  • The Delaware Supreme Court unanimously finds in favor of Legacy in its long-running lawsuit with the Lorillard Tobacco Company. The ruling vindicates the bold approach of the truth campaign, allowing us to continue the life-saving program. 



  • The Institute of Medicine produces a landmark report detailing strategies to fight tobacco-related disease, the nation’s number-one cause of preventable death. Ending the Tobacco Problem: A Blueprint for the Nation acknowledges the contribution of truth and concludes that “a national youth-oriented media campaign should be a permanent component of the nation’s strategy to reduce tobacco.”
  • EX pilot testing ends, and based on the positive evaluation results, the campaign is readied for a national launch.



  • Ten years after the state attorneys general negotiated the groundbreaking 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with tobacco companies, cigarette consumption decreases by an estimated 28 percent, or 135 billion cigarettes.
  • Through a grant with the CDC, Legacy launches the “truth or Consequences” Youth Tobacco Prevention Grants Program to reach youth in rural and smaller communities who may have less access to the life-saving campaign due to decreased media options.
  • The EX quit smoking program rolls out across the country with support from state and national partners, all dedicated to helping smokers “re-learn life without cigarettes.” Peer-reviewed evaluation data shows that not only did EX lead to an increase in quit attempts, but the more times people come to the EX website, the more likely they are to quit smoking.
  • At the request of the Ohio Tobacco Prevention and Control Foundation, Legacy joins litigation to protect the State Foundation from Ohio’s effort to divert its funds to other purposes.



  • President Barack Obama signs the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law, giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority over tobacco. The new law has the potential to change the face of tobacco control and save millions of lives.
  • Legacy teams with NBC-TV’s “TODAY” show to help smokers quit with a special series devoted to the issue of smoking.
  • EX encourages sports fans to “re-learn baseball without cigarettes” with a special sponsorship of the Major League Baseball American League Championship Series and World Series; research conducted by Legacy and released in Social Marketing Quarterly demonstrates how the EX brand resonates strongly with smokers.
  • The Kenneth E. Warner Lecture Series at Legacy is broadcast online for the first time to more than 200 stakeholders. Since its debut, the series has provided public health leaders with a forum for dynamic and thought-provoking dialogues on emerging and controversial issues to lay the seeds for the next generation of tobacco control policies. 



  • Legacy joins the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN) and the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) in a collective call to ban menthol as an additive in all tobacco products.
  • Legacy works with the CDC and University of California, San Francisco Center for Tobacco Research and Education to announce the first Morbidity and Mortality Report that urges an “R” rating for movies featuring images of smoking to reduce their impact on youth tobacco initiation.
  • Legacy produces a new ad campaign on the social and economic consequences of secondhand smoke for working class Americans. The ads are made available to states and communities around the country through the CDC’s Media Campaign Resource Center.
  • The Supreme Court of Ohio rules unanimously that the legislature had the right to shutter the successful Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation and divert every penny of the state’s remaining tobacco settlement funds for other purposes in the economically-depressed state. The decision brings two years of appeals in pending litigation to a disappointing conclusion.



  • Legacy releases a special report on the high prevalence of tobacco use and nicotine dependence among people with mental illnesses. The report highlights barriers to effective tobacco cessation efforts for people with mental illnesses who are trying to quit and features examples of five projects that demonstrate how organizations across America are addressing tobacco-related disparities faced by people with mental illnesses.
  • Legacy launches a new app from truth called “Night of the Gummies,” which extends the campaign’s history of producing tobacco fact-based interactive games to the mobile space. The game is another example of how truth stays relevant by connecting with its teen target audience in new and innovative ways and sets the stage for the launch of the “Flavor Monsters” mobile game in 2012.
  • Legacy CEO Dr. Cheryl Healton is featured on CNBC’s “Cigarette Wars” special. The one-hour program takes an in-depth look at tobacco’s role in the US economy and highlights the truth campaign as a key counter-weight to the tobacco industry’s marketing efforts.
  • When new research shows that CT scans can detect lung cancer in an earlier, more treatable stage than a standard chest x-ray — increasing the chances of survival by 20 percent — Legacy spreads the word through a series of free informational videos and supporting fact sheets on BecomeAnEX.org. The initiative is funded in part by an educational grant from Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.
  • Legacy establishes the “Friends of Legacy” program to engage opinion leaders and influencers in our life-saving mission. Members of this unique group support Legacy through a minimum annual contribution or through equivalent donated time or fundraising efforts.  



  • Legacy debuts its new youth activism toolkit at the National Conference on Tobacco or Health in Kansas City. The comprehensive guide provides information on how young people can help fight commercial tobacco use in schools and communities. Legacy also hosts a special reception at the conference for more than 300 guests to honor youth activists from around the country.
  • Legacy provides the CDC with strategic guidance on the development of their new national public education campaign called "Tips from Former Smokers," which uses real smokers to illustrate the consequences of living with smoking-related illnesses and disabilities. This highly anticipated effort fulfills the promise of the Affordable Care Act to expand public health programs that protect and save lives.
  • Legacy launches the MyLegacyStory.org, which serves as a community space for people who have been touched by tobacco through the loss of a loved one, a child experimenting with smoking or their own struggles to break a tobacco addiction. The site also includes pledge pages for people to support Legacy’s efforts to help people live longer, healthier lives without tobacco.
  • In response to Family Dollar’s announcement that it will begin selling tobacco products in its stores nationwide, Legacy helps organize community-based events and raise awareness through media outreach about the new policy. Since Family Dollar stores mainly operate in neighborhoods with low and middle-income families, adding tobacco products to its shelves undermines public health efforts to address tobacco-related health disparities in these communities.
  • To highlight tobacco as a major public health crisis among some of the nation’s top opinion leaders, Legacy presents information, ideas and visuals about the issue and our life-saving programs to address it at the annual Aspen Ideas Festival. An eye-catching display featuring videos and artwork from Legacy campaigns, interactive displays with tobacco facts and maps, tools to illustrate tobacco industry marketing efforts and giveaways help engage attendees, which include executives from the nation's most innovative companies and organizations, key national influencers, policymakers and journalists.