May. 13 2003
Washington, D.C. — As a case deciding the fate of soft money heads to the Supreme Court, a new report released today shows the tobacco industry gave more than $9.4 million in soft money and political action committee (PAC) contributions to federal candidates, political parties and political committees in the 2001-2002 election cycle. Common Cause and the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund released the new numbers.
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 $26.3 million, including $16.8 million in soft money and more than $9.4 million in PAC contributions. Since 1999, the tobacco industry has spent more than $62 million on lobbying in Washington. In the first six months of 2002 alone, they spent $10.5 million on lobbying which works out to $121,383 for every day Congress was in session.
"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 in the 2001-2002 election cycle, Jan. 1, 2002 to Dec. 31, 2002:
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 sponsored the Philip Morris-backed FDA bill, H.R 2180 in the 107th Congress, have received, on average, more than 20 times as much money from the tobacco industry as the 127 sponsors of a public health community-supported FDA bill, H.R.1097 ($13,001 vs. $676).
"It's no accident that this critical public health issue doesn't get the attention it deserves from Congress. The tobacco industry's $9.4 million in contributions protects their billions in profits at a major cost to public health," said Chellie Pingree, president of Common Cause. "We hope that the Supreme Court will uphold the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act maintaining the ban on unlimited corporate ‘soft money' political contributions and 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 April 10, 2003.
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 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.
(More information on tobacco industry political contributions can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/contributions/.)