Oct. 22 2002
Washington, D.C. — The tobacco industry has contributed more than $7.3 million in soft money and political action committee (PAC) contributions to federal candidates, political parties and political committees so far this election cycle - from January 1, 2001, to October 2, 2002 - according to a quarterly report issued today by the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund and Common Cause.
The report also details how political contributions continue to correlate with lawmakers support of legislation supported by Philip Morris and opposed by the public health community that would provide for weak regulation of tobacco products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Since 1997, the tobacco industry has contributed more than $23 million, including $15.2 million in soft money and more than $8.28 million in PAC contributions. Since 1999, the four largest cigarette companies have spent more than $44 million on lobbying the U.S. Congress.
"The tobacco companies are continuing their decades-long effort to use political muscle to avoid effective public policies that protect the public health," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund. "Today's report tells us why there has been so little action on tobacco in Congress this year, despite the fact that more than 2,000 kids become addicted smokers every day and more than 400,000 Americans die every year from tobacco use."
The report details the following tobacco industry contributions so far in the 2001-2002 election cycle:
Soft money and PAC contributions to federal candidates, political parties and political committees totaled $7,340,728 since January 1, 2001.
Tobacco companies, along with tobacco company executives and employees, donated more than $4.6 million in soft money to the Democratic and Republican parties so far this cycle, including $3,799,179 (82 percent) to the Republicans and $836,888 (18 percent) to the Democrats. More than 50 percent of these soft money donations came from Philip Morris.
Tobacco company PACs donated over $1.8 million directly to federal candidates, with 74 percent ($1,360,219) of the total donations going to Republican candidates and 25 percent ($462,310) to Democratic candidates.
Tobacco PACs have donated more than $873,000 to non-candidate committees, including Democratic and Republican party committees and leadership PACs established by individual members of Congress. Of the total, $ 649,132 (74 percent) went to the Republicans, $103,000 (12 percent) to the Democrats and $121,000 (14 percent) to non-party committees.
The report's appendix details tobacco contributions to every current Member of Congress since January 1, 1995. To look up a specific Member's contribution details, go to: www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/contributions/
Demonstrating how the tobacco industry's contributions are used to thwart public health policy, the report details contributions to the sponsors and cosponsors of ineffective FDA legislation supported by Philip Morris.
The 17 House members who are sponsoring the Philip Morris-backed FDA bill, H.R 2180, have received, on average, more than 19 times as much money from the tobacco industry as the 126 sponsors of a public health community-supported FDA bill, H.R.1097 ($11,883 vs. $609).
"It's no accident that this critical public health issue doesn't get the attention it deserves from Congress. The tobacco industry's $7.3 million in contributions protects their billions in profits at a major cost to public health, and underlines the need for a ban on unlimited corporate political contributions," said Scott Harshbarger, president of Common Cause. "We hope that the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act will give America's children the upper hand for a change in the debate over tobacco regulation in Congress."
Campaign Contributions by Tobacco Interests is the latest issue of a quarterly report that updates Buying Influence, Selling Death, a major report on tobacco industry political influence that was issued by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Common Cause in March 2001. All the contributions cited in this reported are based on data released by the FEC as of October 2, 2002.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 Americans every year and causing more than $155 billion in health care costs and lost productivity. Ninety percent of smokers begin at or before age 18.
This quarterly report's development and distribution are meant to provide information and analysis on the tobacco industry's extraordinary and improper political influence, especially in regard to the U.S. Congress and the Federal Government. Toward this end, this report offers a range of information, including data on direct and indirect tobacco industry contributions to Members of Congress, other elected officials, and other candidates for elected office. Nothing in this report is meant in any way to endorse, support, or oppose the election of any candidate or to indicate any support or opposition to any candidate's election by any of the sponsoring organizations.