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Study Reveals Tobacco Industry Political Spending, Influence on the Rise

06/02/03

SACRAMENTO, June 2 (AScribe Newswire) -- Tobacco control advocates are citing a new study released today as evidence to support their proposal to increase California's tobacco tax by $1.50 per pack of cigarettes and earmark 20 cents for the State's Tobacc

The study, "Tobacco Policy Making in California 2001-2003: No Longer Finishing First" was co-authored by University of California, San Francisco professor, Dr. Stan Glantz, Ph.D., a renowned expert on the effects of tobacco use. The study concludes that the tobacco industry has been extremely effective at thwarting public policies aimed at strengthening the California Tobacco Control Program and reducing smoking statewide. This study also reveals that the tobacco industry has stepped-up its efforts in Sacramento to court legislators, legislative candidates, political parties and constitutional officers. The full report by Dr. Glantz and Dr. Jennifer Ibrahim, PhD, can be viewed at http://repositories.cdlib.org/ctcre/tcpmus/CAPolicy2003/ Specific findings in the study include: - During the 2001-2002 legislative session, the tobacco industry spent a total of $5.95 million in political expenditures, which is an increase of $1.3 million over the previous legislative session; - Campaign contributions from the tobacco industry totaled $1.66 million a 12 percent increase over the previous election cycle; - Big tobacco spent $4.29 million on lobbying expenditures during the 2001-2002 legislative session, including $3.63 million paid to lobbying firms and an additional $649,076 on activities and other expenditures to influence policy making in California - an increase of $1.05 million since the previous legislative session; - The Tobacco Control Program's budget has decreased during the Davis Administration. The Governor's Proposal for the 2003-2004 Budget appropriates approximately $86 million for the program, which is a decrease from $107.8 million in 2002-2003 and $154 million in 2001-2002. Since its inception in 1988, the Tobacco Control Program and its activities, including the media campaign, have caused statewide smoking among adults and youth to decline by 60 percent per capita. Unfortunately, the Governor's May Revise proposes cuts to the program's budget in an effort to close California's $38 billion deficit. Public health groups that comprise the Coalition for a Healthy Future are advocating for the Legislature to approve a $1.50 per pack increase in the tobacco tax, with a 20 cent earmark for tobacco control, prevention, and cessation programs. Proponents of the earmarked tobacco tax increase say the proposal provides a sound approach to reducing the budget deficit, improving public health by decreasing tobacco addiction, and saving money through reduced health care costs. Californians support an increase in the tobacco tax when the money is used to assist the people directly affected by the tax. A recent poll, commissioned by the American Cancer Society and the Next Generation California Tobacco Control Alliance, shows more than 67 percent approval among Californians for a tobacco tax increase with a specific amount dedicated for tobacco control programs. "Dr. Glantz's study clearly shows that Big Tobacco continues to visit Sacramento bearing financial gifts in its continuing efforts to evade public policy that would improve the health of Californians," said Michael Gordon, American Heart Association, Western States Affiliate Advocacy Chair. "Our plan proposes to take revenue generated from tobacco tax and dedicate a portion to anti-tobacco programs. It will earn California new revenues to fill other budget holes without having to sacrifice a penny from the Tobacco Control Program." Smoking related health care costs total $8.6 billion a year in California, including $3.7 billion paid by taxpayer-funded health care programs. The tobacco tax increase would raise more than $1.1 billion every year in new revenues to help close the state budget deficit, and $64 million in additional sales tax for cash strapped counties. In addition, the plan would save taxpayers' money by reducing smoking related health care costs. A recent University of California, San Francisco study found a $1.50 per pack tax increase, coupled with a 20 cent earmark, would result in savings of $168 million to the state's Medi-Cal Program. "Over the long term, this plan would prevent 6,900 smoking-caused deaths each year from cancer, cardiovascular disease and lung disease," said Paul Knepprath, Vice President of Government Relations for the American Lung Association of California. "An earmarked tobacco tax increase can reduce the deficit, stop kids from smoking, and save limited taxpayer dollars. It's a win-win-win for all Californians." A growing number of legislators have signed on to support the tobacco tax earmark, including Assemblymembers Chan, Chavez Chu, Corbett, Diaz, Dymally, Frommer, Hancock, Jackson, Koretz, Leno, Levine, Lieber, Lowenthal, Montanez, Mullin, Nation, Pavley, Ridley-Thomas, Vargas and Wiggins, along with Senators Ortiz and Torlakson. "We urge the Legislature and Governor to take advantage of this golden opportunity to show that they are more concerned about public health than helping an industry that costs the state billions in health costs," said Traci Verardo, Executive Director of the Next Generation California Tobacco Control Alliance. "The earmarked $1.50 tobacco tax increase can help 640,000 smokers quit, and many more never start." The Coalition for a Healthy Future includes the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association of California, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Next Generation California Tobacco Control Alliance. "As the tobacco industry spends more to lobby our legislators one message becomes abundantly clear - now is not the time to falter in the battle against Big Tobacco," said Ann Goure', spokesperson for the American Cancer Society, California Division. " An earmarked tobacco tax is a priority for the American Cancer Society." The coalition's online Media kit, including sources, background materials and a copy of the ad that appeared in the April 28 Sacramento Bee is available at www.healthyfuture.net.

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