As New York Has Cracked Down On Cigarettes, Tobacco Industry Lobbying Has Soared

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A new report by the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) finds that tobacco industry lobbying soared in New York in 2013 as local and state lawmakers pushed a slew of new anti-tobacco initiatives. “The tobacco industry spent as much in the first six months of 2013 as it had in 2011 and 2012 combined, spending over $7 million on lobbying during that period,” wrote the study authors.

New York City passed a slew of new tobacco initiatives in 2013 under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s (I) administration. It became the largest city to raise to legal smoking age from 18 to 21 and extended its indoor smoking ban to include electronic cigarettes — a relatively new and burgeoning market that has attracted increasing attention from the tobacco industry.

The new report shows that Altria, formerly know as Philip Morris, spent over $4 million on lobbying against local tobacco initiatives and over $300,000 on campaign contributions — the most of any tobacco company. Lobbying efforts focused on New York City, Buffalo, Binghamton, and Albany, Columbia, Madison and Suffolk counties. The authors also noted that while Republican politicians were by far the largest recipients of tobacco industry contributions in New York, the New York State Democratic Committee broke a promise it made in 2000 to not accept donations from the tobacco industry.

“The tobacco lobby fought to block former Mayor Bloomberg’s health initiatives, but it appears it was also deeply involved in debates of Albany County’s ban on the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies, the City of Buffalo’s restriction on tobacco advertising at the point of sale, as well as Suffolk County’s efforts to do the same,” according to the report. “All three proposals have not been enacted.”

On top of local lobbying efforts, the tobacco industry spends upwards of $16 million lobbying Congress and contributed $1.5 million to federal candidates in 2010 alone.