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Tobacco Industry Gave More Than $1.3 Million in Federal Political Contributions in 2003

February 18, 2004

Washington, DC — The tobacco industry made more than $1.3 million in political contributions to federal candidates, political parties and political committees so far in the 2003-2004 election cycle, according to a quarterly report issued today by the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund and Common Cause.

The report details how political contributions continue to correlate with lawmakers' support of legislation 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 $27 million, including $16.8 million in soft money and more than $10 million in Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions. Since 1999, the four largest cigarette companies have also spent more than $81 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, 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 tobacco industry contributions so far during the 2003-2004 election cycle:

  • Tobacco company PACs donated $764,500 directly to federal candidates, with 71 percent ($544,000) of the total donations going to Republican candidates and 29 percent ($220,500) going to Democratic candidates.
  • Tobacco PACs have donated over $623,000 to non-candidate committees, including Democratic and Republican party committees and leadership PACs established by individual members of Congress. Of the total, $466,499 (75 percent) went to the Republicans, $115,500 (18 percent) to the Democrats and $41,970 (7 percent) to non-party committees.
  • The report's appendix details tobacco contributions to every current Member of Congress since January 1, 1997. To look up contributions to a specific Member, go to:

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 opposed by the public health community.

The 17 House members who sponsored this legislation, 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).

'This report exemplifies how once again money influences the actions of lawmakers,' said Chellie Pingree, president of Common Cause. 'These contributions from the tobacco industry appear to have delayed important public health policy. This situation shows why campaign finance reform is necessary.'

Campaign Contributions by Tobacco Interests is the latest issue of a quarterly report on the tobacco industry's political influence. The report is issued by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund and Common Cause and all the contributions cited in this reported are based on data released by the FEC as of January 13, 2004.

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. Nearly 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.