Smoking has been banned on airplanes since 1990. In California -the first state to implement a smoke-free air law – workplaces, bars, and restaurants have been smoke-free since 1998. There haven’t been tobacco billboard advertisements since 1999. While the country has made significant progress towards ending the tobacco epidemic, the Trump Administration’s connections to the tobacco industry make it seem like the White House is moving backwards.
Here are just a few of the high-profile counselors and appointees of the Trump Administration with ties to Big Tobacco.
Donald Trump is expected to nominate George Conway, a civil attorney and the husband of Kellyanne Conway, as the head of the civil division of the Department of Justice. Conway previously represented Philip Morris, a major tobacco company.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions
While running for the Senate, Sessions received money from tobacco corporation RJ Reynolds. He even received more money than is allowed and had to send money back to RJ Reynolds. He also opposed FDA tobacco regulations and lawsuits against the tobacco industry.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price
Tom Price has also received funds from the tobacco industry and has repeatedly voted against measures to regulate big tobacco.
Vice President Mike Pence
As recently as 1998, Vice President Mike Pence wrote that “smoking doesn’t kill.” Throughout his political career, Pence has received more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from the tobacco industry.
President Donald Trump
Philip Morris (re-branded as Altria) also donated $500,000 to President Trump’s inauguration, earning them a private dinner with the president and vice president.
Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Part of the reason that tobacco is so prevalent in the United States is because the powerful tobacco corporations have been lobbying against laws and buying political votes for decades. Tobacco industry money and influence created death and disease for a huge number of Americans; politicians that continue to accept that money will not solve the problem.
At ASH, we are committed to ending the tobacco epidemic for good through legal action, de-commercialization, and public education. We will fight against the tobacco industry and its influence, in the U.S. and around the world.