As the first primary elections begin, you are probably thinking about a lot of factors when considering who to vote for. But have you thought about how tobacco plays into the election?
Many people consider tobacco a public health issue, so when voting, your candidate’s support for tobacco control legislation may be an important factor. But, very few people consider whether their candidate has accepted campaign financing from Big Tobacco. And they should; financing from Big Tobacco can have a huge impact on public health.
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the world today, and it is the only product on the market that, when used exactly as intended, kills. About half a million Americans die prematurely each year because of tobacco use, including nonsmokers who die from secondhand tobacco smoke.
There is an irreconcilable conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and public health.
Candidates that accept campaign funding from Big Tobacco may feel obligated to pass laws that protect and support the tobacco industry, instead of laws that protect and support public health. Lawmakers should be on the side of public health, not the tobacco industry. It is their obligation to keep their constituents healthy and safe from the harms of tobacco products.
Here is an infographic of presidential candidates who have accepted the most money from the tobacco industry in the 2016 election cycle. As you can see, this is a problem that crosses party lines: both Democrats and Republicans have accepted money from tobacco corporations.
Thank you to Center for Responsive Politics for the finance data, and please check back for our more detailed campaign contributions map, including Congressional races, in fall 2016.