In 1998, while pushing his bill that would increase cigarette taxes by $1.10 over five years, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) argued that it was “time to put an end to” tobacco companies encouraging “children to purchase tobacco in every state in the country.” Though McCain’s bill “fell three votes short of the needed 60 to end a filibuster,” he declared at the time that he would “never” give up his efforts to regulate the industry.
Now it appears as though “never” may last only a decade for McCain. In August 2007, McCain voted against a bill that would have raised tobacco taxes by 61 cents in order to pay for an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.”Thinking that you’re going to pay for it with a $1 tax increase on tobacco is voodoo,” McCain told conservative blogger Robert Bluey.
The Boston Globe reports today that McCain may also be backing away from a tobacco regulation bill that he co-sponsored:
Now, McCain’s longtime effort to crack down on tobacco is being put to a new test. Within weeks, the Senate is expected to vote on legislation to allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco. McCain agreed months ago to cosponsor the current bill with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, but McCain’s policy adviser said the senator won’t commit to voting for it until he sees the final legislation.
As Christy from Firedoglake notes, McCain’s chief political adviser Charlie Black is a former lobbyist for Phillip Morris, a major tobacco company. Black, who left the company in 2001, told the Globe that “he hasn’t discussed any issues related to his clients with McCain while serving as the senator’s senior adviser in the current campaign.”
Throughout the 2008 election cycle, McCain has received $17,500 in contributions from the tobacco industry.