Jul. 27 1998
Washington, DC - The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS today released a compilation of tobacco PAC contributions showing that the industry has pumped $1.2 million into the re-election campaigns of U.S. House of Representatives and Senate members so far this election season. The CAMPAIGN report only includes PAC contributions from January 1, 1997 through June 30, 1998. It indicates that 218 out of 435 U.S. House members and 33 of 100 U.S. Senators received tobacco PAC contributions. If individual contributions from tobacco company executives or soft money contributions were added, the total amount given to House members would likely be several million dollars. A proposal now pending in the U.S. House of Representatives suggests that these tobacco companies’ efforts are influencing Members’ decisions. The House Republican leadership has proposed legislation that would reverse much of the progress that has been made in recent years to curb youth tobacco use. For example, the proposal would wipe out federal regulations that require retailers to check the ID of young people purchasing cigarettes. “The tobacco money kept flowing even as the legislation was under consideration in the U.S. Senate last month,” said Bill Novelli, CAMPAIGN president. “With the amount of money going into House campaigns, many of these Members are going to face a tough choice. If they stand with the tobacco industry, they’ll be repaying their debt for all these campaign contributions. But they’ll also be voting against America’s kids, and that could mean an even tougher ride in November than trying to finance a campaign without tobacco money.” The report on tobacco company PAC contributions coincides with three recent developments concerning tobacco contributions and special interest influence. Last week, a study reported in The Washington Post revealed that the tobacco companies allowed GOP Members to use corporate jets for campaign and other activities. The tobacco industry provides more subsidized campaign travel to Congressional leaders and political parties than does any other corporate special interest. In another story, The Washington Post also reported that the Tobacco Institute sponsored $60,921 worth of travel for U.S. Senators in 1997, with $36, 464 going to Republicans and $24, 457 going to Democrats. Two weeks ago, the CAMPAIGN released a poll which showed the public is more likely to vote for a candidate who refuses tobacco money and votes for tobacco control. By nearly a seven to one margin, voters say they are more likely to vote for that candidate over one who takes tobacco money and votes with the industry. And shortly after the Senate voted to kill tobacco control legislation, the CAMPAIGN released a scorecard showing a strong link between tobacco contributions and pro-tobacco votes. “A very disturbing, but not very surprising, pattern of behavior has emerged,” said Matthew Myers, CAMPAIGN executive vice president and general counsel. “The tobacco companies still have a tremendous influence and, using their vast resources, have been able to temporarily kill tobacco reform efforts through campaign contributions and special favors. In addition, the tobacco industry continues its multi-million dollar advertising blitzkrieg aimed at distorting the provisions of comprehensive legislation.” The Washington, DC-based CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is the largest initiative ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States. Its mandate is to focus the nation’s attention and action on keeping tobacco marketing from seducing children, and making tobacco less accessible to kids.