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 initiatives do not dedicate enough money to programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. These initiatives do provide robust funding for such programs, and it is laughable that tobacco companies would profess concern for funding programs to reduce tobacco use given everything they do to hook kids and keep smokers from quitting.
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 North Dakota initiatives – while bankrolling the counterproductive Missouri measure – the tobacco companies once again are protecting their profits at the expense of kids and lives. Voters across the country should reject the industry's lies and support genuine efforts to protect children from tobacco addiction and save lives.
For more information on the California, Colorado and North Dakota initiatives, please visit:
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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids