Aug. 13 2003
Washington, D.C. — As Congress prepares to consider major tobacco legislation for the first time in years, a new report released today shows that the tobacco industry spent $20,680,315 to lobby Congress in 2002. That amounts to a whopping $138,794 spent on lobbying for every day Congress was in session. That is on top of the $9,424,612 Big Tobacco gave in political contributions during the 2002 election cycle and the $665,751 they contributed in the first six months of 2003.
These figures were disclosed in a report released today by Common Cause and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund detailing the industry's lobbying expenditures and its soft money and political action committee (PAC) donations. The report is based on Federal Election Commission filings and lobbying expenditures reported to the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House. These numbers do not reflect any money spent by the tobacco industry to advertise their agenda to the American public or countless other activities designed to support their lobbying efforts that go unreported.
The report comes as Congress prepares for the first time since 1998 to take up the issue of tobacco regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Philip Morris, which spent $94,228 on lobbying each day Congress was in session in 2002, has advocated weak, loophole-filled legislation opposed by the public health community, while other tobacco companies have opposed FDA legislation outright. The new report also comes just weeks after a Washington Post story detailed how Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) last year tried to add a provision beneficial to Philip Morris to legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security.
Since 1997, the tobacco industry has contributed nearly $26.6 million, including $16.8 million in soft money and more than $9.7 million in PAC contributions.
"The tobacco companies are continuing their decades-long effort to use political contributions to block effective public policies that protect the public health while more than 2,000 kids become addicted smokers every day and more than 400,000 Americans die every year from tobacco use," said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund.
The report details the tobacco industry's contributions in the first six months of the 2003-2004 election cycle, Jan. 1, 2003 to July 7, 2003. The report's appendix details tobacco contributions to every current Member of Congress since Jan. 1, 1997. 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 sponsored the Philip Morris-backed FDA bill, H.R 2180 in the 107th Congress, 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 ($12,707 vs. $613 per sponsor).
"It's no accident that the tobacco industry has been able to stymie all efforts to date to pass meaningful FDA regulation of tobacco products and their marketing. The tobacco industry's $10 million in contributions since 2001 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 on tobacco industry political influence by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Common Cause. All the contributions cited in this reported are based on data released by the FEC as of July 7, 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/.)