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New Data Compilation Shows Scope of Tobacco Industry Lobbying in the U.S.

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Megan Manning
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New Data Compilation Shows Scope of Tobacco Industry Lobbying in the U.S.
Tobacco Companies Hire Hundreds of Lobbyists as They Post Court-Ordered Signs about Decades of Lies

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 14, 2023 – Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) released a new U.S. Tobacco Industry Lobbyist and Lobbying Firm Registration Tracker for the current registration cycle. This is the second edition of the tracker, which is the first source to compile and standardize tobacco industry lobbying in the U.S. The tracker compiles public records from the varying registration and reporting systems within all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

“There is an irreconcilable conflict between the goals of tobacco companies and the goals of public health,” said Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Managing Attorney at ASH. “We must exclude tobacco companies from regulating their own products, as the global tobacco treaty, the FCTC, recommends.  Where that’s not possible, we must shine a light on the tobacco industry representatives and ensure their ‘advice’ is ignored.”

Lobbying is not inherently problematic; the problem arises when lobbyists work on behalf of companies whose products kill when used exactly as intended. There is no safe use of cigarettes; they kill up to half of all users and sicken millions more.

“The tobacco industry has been a tremendous threat to public health for decades, and it’s no surprise that they come with a wide array of lobbyists and consultants doing their bidding,” stated Stacey Gagosian, Vice President of Public Policy at Truth Initiative. “This registration tracker from Action on Smoking and Health is an invaluable tool that allows us to see just how many tobacco industry lobbyists there are on the federal and state levels, as well as showing just how much money the industry is willing to spend to ensure that their products are as free from legislation and regulation as possible. States and localities are the incubators of tobacco policies with a significant impact on the health of their communities, and we need to be on top of the industry’s efforts to water down those policies. This platform shines a light on the industry’s activities and helps us blunt the tobacco industry’s lobbying work, and we’re grateful to ASH for their important work on this front.”

This edition of the tracker is being released within weeks of major U.S. tobacco companies being required by a federal court to start posting “corrective statement” signs inside most stores that sell tobacco products. The 2006 civil racketeering verdict found that the companies had engaged in a 50-year organized conspiracy to commit fraud that would likely continue indefinitely into the future. Public health policy must not be determined by federally adjudicated racketeers.

Cigarettes are extremely addictive and cause cancer in nearly every organ of the body. Their manufacturers have no place in public health policymaking.

The ASH Tracker allows health-conscious policymakers and advocates to have a clear understanding of who is lobbying on behalf of tobacco companies to ensure their input ceases. The tracker also provides the public with a more accurate understanding of how hard tobacco companies are lobbying for weaker public health legislation in order to maintain their deadly grasp on their falling market share.

Key Federal Data Points:

  • As of April 24, 2023, tobacco companies have spent $6,982,475 lobbying in the U.S. this year at the federal level alone (source).
  • Also at the federal level for 2023, the tobacco industry has 213 lobbyists registered, over 80% of whom are former government employees likely to have increased access to highly influential people (source).

Key Data Points from the ASH Tracker:

  • At the state level for 2023, a total of 927 lobbying registrations for the tobacco industry were identified, involving 856 lobbyists or lobbying firms.
  • Altria (previously known as Philip Morris USA) had a total of 293 registrations of lobbyists or lobbying firms, covering all 50 states and DC.
  • Juul, with which Altria has an irrevocable licensing agreement, had a total of 95 registrations of lobbyists or firms covering 39 states and DC.
  • Reynolds American had a total of 189 registrations of lobbyists or lobbying firms covering 49 states and DC.
  • Chart of the top 11 US states with the most tobacco industry lobbyists.
  • Public records indicate that 12 states and DC require or allow lobbying firms to register, instead of individual lobbyists, allowing the tobacco industry to mask from public view the actual number and names of individual lobbyists who are working on their behalf in those states. Chart of states lacking transparency in lobbying.
  • From 2021 to 2023, Swisher International and Swedish Match increased the number of lobbyists they employ across the U.S.

Click here to explore the 2023 U.S. Tobacco Industry Lobbyist and Lobbying Firm Registration Tracker>

ASH and partners hosted a webinar on Thursday, June 15, 2023 to discuss tobacco industry lobbying in the U.S. Watch the recording below.

Founded in 1967, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is America’s oldest anti-tobacco organization, dedicated to a world with ZERO tobacco deaths. Because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH supports bold solutions proportionate to the magnitude of the problem. ash.org