Momentum toward Congressional action on tobacco issues began with the announcement in June 1997 of a proposed "global tobacco settlement" between the tobacco industry, a group of state Attorneys General, and private class action lawyers. For the next year, tobacco issues received unprecedented national attention, culminating in the U.S. Senate's consideration and ultimate defeat of the McCain tobacco bill. Through the proposed settlement, the Attorneys General and others involved in talks with the industry sought to reduce tobacco use by attempting to forge a "win-win" solution for all parties. In exchange for money and public health concessions, the industry would be granted sweeping protection from litigation and thus a stable environment in which to operate. Members of the public health community responded to the "global tobacco settlement" in very different ways. The authors explore how different visions of possibilities and practicalities were played out in the fight for strong Federal tobacco control legislation and attempt to draw lessons for the future.