Oct. 8 2007
Washington, D.C. - In the latest example that the tobacco companies have not changed and continue to put profit before health, Big Tobacco and its bag of dirty tricks have descended on Oregon in an effort to defeat a November ballot initiative that would increase the state cigarette tax and fund children's health care. R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris have so far spent at least $6.6 million – a record for an Oregon ballot measure – to defeat Measure 50, the Healthy Kids Oregon initiative, according to media reports.
The tobacco companies' money is being spent on highly deceptive tactics that have been exposed by the Oregon media:
R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris are fighting Measure 50 because it would raise the cigarette tax by 84.5 cents per pack, which they know is a highly effective strategy to reduce smoking, especially among kids. The tobacco companies are well aware that voters strongly support cigarette tax increases, especially when used to fund important programs like children's health care. So they've concluded that their only chance to defeat this initiative is to spend vast sums to carry out political dirty tricks and deceive voters. Each company has spent about $3.3 million so far against the initiative, according to media reports.
Opposition by Big Tobacco is one of the best arguments why Oregon voters should support Measure 50. Voters should reject the tobacco industry's lies and support Measure 50 for the very same reason Big Tobacco opposes it: It will prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, thereby saving many lives.
These Oregon activities continue the tobacco industry's long history of political dirty tricks. Last year, tobacco companies spent more than $80 million to oppose state ballot initiatives to increase tobacco taxes and require smoke-free workplaces and public places. In Arizona and Ohio , R.J. Reynolds tried unsuccessfully to defeat smoke-free ballot measures by sponsoring alternate initiatives that would have allowed smoking to continue in many workplaces, but had misleading names like the Arizona Non-Smoker Protection Act and Smoke Less Ohio.
Links to media clips regarding the tobacco companies' recent Oregon activities:
Oct. 3, 2007
Cigarette companies ante up $6.6 million – so far – to try to defeat a tax increase intended for children's health
Sept. 28, 2007
Two sides debate the money trail regarding the proposed law
Oregon Daily Emerald
Sept. 24, 2007
The Associated Press
Sept. 12, 2007
Measure 50 - After stations hold off running the spots, the tobacco maker clarifies it's paying for them