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The Scope and Reach of Tobacco Industry Lobbying
New Resource from ASH Identifies U.S. Tobacco Lobbyists and Lobbying Firms To Clarify Who Should Not be Trusted on Public Health Issues
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 28, 2021 – Tobacco companies spend millions of dollars annually on lobbyists and lobbying firms in the U.S. to infiltrate and weaken public health policymaking. Today, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) launches a new resource for public health advocates, policymakers, and media called the U.S. Tobacco Lobbyist and Lobbying Firm Registration Tracker, which identifies who has registered in each U.S. state to lobby on behalf of Big Tobacco.
In total, 994 state-level lobbying registrations for the tobacco industry were identified, involving at least 918 lobbyists or lobbying firms. The data compiled in ASH’s Tracker are from publicly-available state registration pages, but because each state has different registration requirements and posts their information in a different place, before ASH’s Tracker launched, it was challenging for media, policymakers, and advocates to fully see the scope of interference tobacco companies perpetuate across the U.S.
“ASH’s Tracker is meant to even the playing field a little more for the greater public health community,” said Laurent Huber, Executive Director at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). “Advocates and policymakers now have an accurate list of whose ‘help’ on public health policymaking should be avoided, as we know tobacco companies and their representatives are only concerned with protecting their profits and not saving lives.”
The universally-embraced World Health Organization tobacco treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Article 5.3 Guidelines further clarify that involving tobacco companies in the regulation of their own products undermines public health (source).
“With this national tracker, ASH provides an important new resource for improving accessibility and transparency on the scope and reach of tobacco industry lobbying,” said Beth Rotman, National Director of Money in Politics and Ethics at Common Cause. “Big Tobacco is among the worst industries, warranting more public attention and scrutiny.”
The best indication of tobacco companies’ true motives regarding public health policy was revealed by their behavior during the global COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, while society collectively prioritized public health in the face of a respiratory pandemic, tobacco companies spent $28,156,312 at the federal level attempting to weaken public health and tobacco control policies (source), despite the known co-morbidity between tobacco use and COVID-19 (source). As of July 23 tobacco companies have already spent $13,700,000 in 2021 (source), while society still works to lesson the COVID-19 pandemic and recover. The goals of tobacco companies and public health remain diametrically opposed.
For decades, tobacco companies have sought every opportunity to protect their profit at the expense of one person dying every 4.5 seconds from a tobacco-related disease. Tobacco companies, their lobbyists, and their lobbying firms must be actively excluded from all public health policymaking.
ACTION ON SMOKING AND HEALTH
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. https://ash.org