MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says a multi-state agreement with major tobacco companies ensures continued funding for public health programs. Over the years Alabama has received nearly $1 billion for health care programs because of the agreement. The money has funded programs for children and senior citizens, and provided incentives for economic development. The payments are part of a 1998 anti-smoking agreement preventing tobacco companies from being sued to cover health care costs for smokers. Strange says the settlement announced Tuesday and agreed upon by 17 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico is essential to the future of public health funding in Alabama. The agreement is slated to last more than 10 years. The settlement resolves a dispute over the amount of payments required under the anti-smoking agreement.