California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Report: Tobacco Industry Spends Millions To Affect State Politics

From 2009 to 2010, the tobacco industry spent $9.3 million in California to influence politics and state policy, according to a report by the American Lung Association in California, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports.

In the past 10 years, political spending by tobacco interests has reached nearly $100 million, more than half of which was spent by cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris USA, according to the report (Weintraub, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 7/19).

The report was released as the lung association and other anti-smoking groups prepare for an election battle over a proposed tax increase of $1 per cigarette pack to fund cancer research.

Supporting Candidates

About half of California's lawmakers received various amounts of financial support from tobacco companies from 2009 to 2010, the report found.

During that time, cigarette makers and distributors gave California state candidates $6.5 million, an increase of $4.5 million over the 2007-2008 election cycle, according to the lung association (Gardner, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/19).

The two major-party gubernatorial candidates in California last year -- Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and Meg Whitman (R) -- received contributions of $2,500 and $25,900, respectively.

Supporting Ballot Measures

In addition, the report found that tobacco companies' political spending spikes when there are cigarette taxes or tobacco regulations being considered by legislators or through ballot initiatives (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 7/19).

From 2009 to 2010, the industry spent $2.76 million on lobbying, much of which was dedicated to fighting new tobacco taxes (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/19).

According to the report, the industry spent $66.6 million in the 2005-2006 election cycle to combat a ballot measure -- Proposition 86 -- that would have increased the state tobacco tax by $2.60 per pack (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 7/19).

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