A new interactive map from the non-profit Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) breaks down campaign donations from the tobacco industry to Congressional races by state and district. The goal of the map, according to a press release issued by ASH, is to educate Americans about the extent of the industry’s influence in American politics despite its conflict with public health goals:
“The United States has joined with the rest of the world in calling for serious action about tobacco, and part of that is acknowledging that the tobacco industry is the vector of the disease,” said ASH director Laurent Huber. The U.S. signed on to a UN political declaration last year that recognizes the need to tackle the tobacco epidemic and highlights “the fundamental conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and public health,” the reason why big tobacco should stay away from public policy. Huber added, “The public interest and the interests of the tobacco industry are diametrically opposed. It is simply unethical for politicians to take tobacco money.” [...]
The tobacco industry is bi-partisan when it comes to buying political favors. Dozens of Democrats as well as Republicans gladly accept donations from tobacco corporations, and for decades members of both parties have returned the favor by voting for tobacco interests. After years of effort, Congress finally gave FDA limited authority over tobacco in 2009, but only after Philip Morris, the number one tobacco industry donor, said it was OK. Even now the tobacco industry seeks to undermine the effectiveness of FDA regulation.
Smoking rates are still high around the world and, in the United States, tobacco-related illnesses disproportionately afflict the LGBT community. Smoking cessation programs, in addition to their obvious health benefits, have proven highly efficient in economic terms.
When Mitt Romney was President of Bain and Co., the consulting firm advised Phillip Morris to slash cigarette prices, a move that helped raise profits partly by increasing sales among teens.