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Big Tobacco Spent $100 Million Plus on CA Politics in Past Decade

Big Tobacco Spent $100 Million Plus on CA Politics in Past Decade

Over the past decade, “Big Tobacco” spent over $100 million to influence elections and legislative policy in California, according to a report, Tobacco Money in California Politics. The report can be read in full at the Center For Tobacco Policy and Organizing site. A searchable database of campaign contributions on the site provides precise figures about the campaign contributions tobacco companies are making to individual California state assembly members and Senators.

9.3 million was spent on campaign contributions and lobbying during the 2009-2010 election cycle. 48 percent of California’s state legislators — 59 members out of 122 — have received campaign contributions from the tobacco industry (a total that was the same in previous election cycles). More than $62 million was spent to oppose Proposition 86, a 2006 ballot initiative that would have increased California’s tobacco tax by $2.60 a pack, to pay for pay for “additional hospital funding, health coverage of children, nursing education, anti-smoking education programs, and funding for nonprofit clinics.” Proposition 86 lost by a narrow margin.

Further, Philip Morris USA Inc. alone spent more than $750,000 on lobbying from April through June of 2009, the second quarter of that year: This was a “record amount for lobbying expenditures in one quarter by any tobacco interest over the last decade,” according to a press release from the American Lung Association about theeport. Incidentally, it was during those very three months that the California legislature voted on two budget bills that were of more than a little interest to the tobacco industry. One bill contained a tobacco tax increase, while the other bill was also about tobacco taxes (and was already moving forward in the legislative process) — tobacco companies are out to protect their interests, not to mention their profits.

Of all special interests, tobacco companies ranked “near the top” in total spending on campaign contributions and lobbying, says the report.

Nonetheless, in this same time period, smoking rates in California have kept falling and more communities passed policies meant to reduce the impact of smoking in California. The San Jose Mercury News reports that the state’s adult smoking rate is 11.9 percent, a record low. (Money doesn’t all buy results, it’s heartening to know.)

I’m originally from California and, even though I grew up in the years prior to the passing of a anti-smoking legislation, I remember a general attitude of “why would anyone deliberately endanger their health and smoke”? Much more recently, and thankfully, smoking has been banned from restaurants, indoor public places and workplaces (and in casinos)  in New Jersey where we live. In New York, it’s illegal to smoke not only in restaurants but on train platforms and parks and beaches.

A recent study has shown that babies admitted to hospital with bronchiolitis from a household where a parent smokes are twice as likely to need oxygen therapy than babies whose parents do not smoke — and they’re five times as likely to need mechanical ventilation. Does it need to be said again that smoking is not good for you, or for those around you?

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18 comments

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11:21AM PDT on Jul 22, 2011

Interesting information. Thank You

10:42AM PDT on Jul 22, 2011

Dear John H.

Can I introduce you to the 'concept' of Passive smoking ?

It's not something I 've dreamed up.

But it can cause lung cancer, even if that person never smoked a single cigarette.

So, when you write about the Tobacco Company not actually forcing anyone to smoke - could you please take what I've written ' on-board ' and deliberate it? Thanks.

6:27PM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

dont blame the cigarette company's for anything they make the product and they dont force you to smoke the product . people need to take more responcability for there bad decisions.

5:11PM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

Thanks for posting.

4:54PM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

It looks like they wasted their money.

4:44PM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

I quit smoking last year, best choice I've ever made.

10:42AM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

Tobacco companies, I'd like you to meet my brother-in-law. You can't of course, because he died of lung cancer earlier this year after a lifetime of smoking your products. Perhaps you'd rather meet his wife, who never smoked. Better hurry. She's dying of lung cancer, too.

I can't imagine how these tobacco company execs can sleep at night. Maybe they could 50 years ago, before the evidence was clear. But now?

8:21AM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

Philip Morris USA Inc,,,,,hmmmmmmm

7:27AM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

, California cigarette tax revenue currently brings in approximately $122 million dollars annually, yet has annual health care costs of over $18 billion, or . Not a good investment, huh? American Tobacco companies on the other hand spend only 35 cents per pack to make a $5 pack cigarettes, and spend about $10 million annually on propaganda, and politicians in California convincing smokers that government is over taxing them, and taking away their rights. preserving their annual sales revenues of tens of $billions in California, and $1.5 trillion worldwide. Point being that the best return by far, in the fight against tobacco is education, not taxes. Example: California's anti-smoking campaign has cost taxpayers an estimated $1.5 billion, but has saved them $86 billion in healthcare costs. A 50 to 1 return on investment. That's the kind of effective investment the tobacco co.'s have been cashing in on for decades, and it's about time that government realize the best return on investment is in education, not in police, and jails!

6:51AM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

The tobacco industry NEEDS a hostile takeover maybe from the federal government by exercise of eminent domain. The non-tobacco portions of the firms can be turned loose again, but this country really needs to do away with the tobacco industry. The nicotine addicts should be able to get by with alternative nicotine delivery systems, subsidized enough to cost consumers only as much as the tobacco the replace.

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