Tobacco Money: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

We’ve called our state “America’s Nonsmoking Section.”  We were the first to ban smoking in restaurants and bars.  We have a comprehensive tobacco control program that is the model for other states.  We pride ourselves on being the leader in tobacco control.  And when it comes to accepting campaign contributions from the tobacco industry, California is again leading the nation, but down the wrong path.

In coordination with the release of our latest report, Tobacco Money in California Politics, we are starting a four-part blog series titled Tobacco Money: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly that will dig deeper into the significance of the numbers in our report and show how tobacco industry spending in California compares to other industries and other states.  The story told in our report and blog posts will make clear the vast financial resources that the tobacco industry continues to use to influence public policy in our state.  This post is Part 1 and the schedule for the remaining posts is:

Tobacco Money: The Good – July 25
Tobacco industry campaign contributions to California Members of Congress

Tobacco Money: The Bad – August 1
Contributions by tobacco companies in California compared to contributions by other special interests

Tobacco Money: The Ugly – August 8
Tobacco industry contributions in California compared to contributions in the other 49 states

Tobacco Money in California Politics shows that tobacco interests spent $9.3 million in the 2009-2010 election cycle on lobbying the California Legislature and contributions to members of the California Legislature, state constitutional officers, candidates for these offices and to political committees.  There are highlights documents available that detail the major findings on tobacco industry spending for the 2009-2010 election cycle and the past decade (2001-2010).

As you read about the massive amount of money that the tobacco industry has spent over the years attempting to influence elected official s and voters in California, it is important to keep an eye on the future.  Sometime during the next election cycle (2011-2012), California voters will have the chance to vote on the California Cancer Research Act (CCRA), which would raise the state’s tobacco tax by a dollar per pack with revenues allocated to cancer research and tobacco control.  Judging by the spending habits of tobacco companies on past tobacco tax ballot initiatives, they are likely going to spend tens of millions of dollars to try and defeat the ballot initiative.  In fact, they have already spent more than $1.9 million on the opposition campaign and the CCRA doesn’t even have a proposition number or an election date yet.  Any guesses on how high they go this time – $50 million, $75 million?

— Justin Garrett

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Tobacco Money: The Bad – on Aug 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    […] with the Center’s recently released Tobacco Money in California Politics report.  See Part 1 for an overview of our report and the California Cancer Research Act and Part 2 for a look at […]

  2. By Tobacco Money: The Ugly – on Aug 8, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    […] with the Center’s recently released Tobacco Money in California Politics report.  See Part 1 for an overview of our report and the California Cancer Research Act, Part 2 for a look at […]

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