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Presidential Debate Commission Criticized for Accepting Tobacco Money

September 25, 1996

Washington, DC - The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS today called on the Commission on Presidential Debates to return funds it has received this year from tobacco companies. It has been reported that the Commission, entrusted with establishing non-partisan criteria for debates between the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates in October, accepted substantial sums of money from Philip Morris and from R.J. Reynolds. 'A bi-partisan, independent group such as this must be beyond reproach. It cannot afford even the appearance that it is being influenced by special interests who take sides on issues, particularly one as politically volatile as tobacco,' says Matthew Myers, the CAMPAIGN’S executive vice president. 'There is no way to know if the Commission was influenced by these donations, but it raises a lot of questions that shouldn't have to be asked.' The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is the largest private initiative ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States. Its mandate is to focus the nation's attention and action on keeping tobacco marketing from seducing children, and making tobacco less accessible to kids. The campaign's 100+ member organizations include the American Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals and National PTA.