WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — This November, voters in California, Colorado and Nor
The tobacco companies’ opposition to these initiatives shows the industry hasn’t changed and can’t be taken seriously when they say they don’t want kids to smoke. The companies are fighting these initiatives for one simple reason: They know that a significant increase in the tobacco tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids. The huge sums they are spending against these initiatives represent an investment to preserve the pipeline of kids the industry needs to survive.
- In California, tobacco companies, led by Altria/Philip Morris and Reynolds American/R.J. Reynolds, have already poured over $37 million to defeat an initiative (Prop 56) to raise the state cigarette tax by $2 per pack and no doubt will spend much more to wage their disinformation campaign.
- In Colorado, the industry is preparing to spend millions to defeat a ballot measure to raise the tobacco tax by $1.75 per pack.
- In North Dakota, Altria and Reynolds American/R.J. Reynolds have dumped more than $860,000to fight the proposed $1.76 tobacco tax increase, dwarfing the amount raised by proponents.
Of course, the tobacco companies hide the real reason for their opposition behind front groups and deceptive arguments. In California, the companies are trying to mislead voters into thinking the Prop 56 opposition comprises a broad “Coalition of Taxpayers, Educators, Healthcare Professionals, Law Enforcement, Labor, and Small Businesses,” as the group has dubbed its campaign. But, no, it’s the top three tobacco companies, especially Altria and Reynolds, entirely funding the effort. One industry ad charges Prop 56 with “cheating” schools of funding, a claim that has been thoroughly debunked by PolitiFact California, The Sacramento Bee and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The industry even claims the California and Colorado
The industry’s hypocrisy is underscored by the fact that Reynolds American is supporting a small and ineffective tobacco tax increase in Missouri that would provide far less for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The tobacco companies don’t care one bit about funding tobacco prevention efforts. What they do care about is defeating tobacco tax increases or limiting them to such small amounts that they won’t reduce smoking, can be easily countered with the company’s price discounts and don’t hurt the companies’ bottom line. That’s why Reynolds is spending nearly $3 million to support the Missouri initiative – it increases the cigarette tax by just 15 cents a year for four years and heads off the possibility of a larger increase that actually reduces smoking. Missouri would still have one of the lowest cigarette taxes in the country.
By fighting the California, Colorado and N