May 12, 2019

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

ACS CAN releases data on tobacco campaign contributions in California: Juul fighting hard against flavor ban

The new ACS CAN recently released a press release, “Political Contributions from E-cigarette Manufacturer Juul Exposed by ACS CAN Campaign to Snuff Tobacco Money Out of California Politics” summarizing new tobacco industry campaign contribution data in California. 

Their website Snuff Tobacco Money out of California Politics shows that Democrat Adam Gray, chair of the Assembly Government Organization (GO) Committee, accepted $196,000 in tobacco industry campaign money since July 2014.  This is more than four times the amount accepted by the second biggest recipient of tobacco money, Republican Assembly Member Frank Bigelow, who accepted $46,400.  Bigelow is the Vice Chair of Assembly GO.

These huge contributions are well above what most other legislators accepted (among those taking tobacco money), which generally ranged between $10-30,000.    Any many legislators have pledged to refuse tobacco money.

As others have noted before (and as ACS CAN notes), Assembly GO is the place the tobacco industry kills tobacco control legislation.  Indeed, the only reason Californians won passage of a series of important state tobacco control laws in 2016 was because they were considered in a special session on health care that did not have an Assembly GO committee.

Assemblymembers Gray and Bigelow represent the Central Valley (around Modesto and Merced and up into the mountains).  As I have said before, the health groups and local coalitions need to make sure that everyone there knows that these two men are protecting the financial health of Juul and other tobacco interests at the expense of California kids.


Here is the ACS CAN press release:

Political Contributions from E-cigarette Manufacturer Juul Exposed by ACS CAN Campaign to Snuff Tobacco Money Out of California Politics

American Cancer Society Policy Affiliate Urges Elected Officials to Reject Tobacco Influence Including Dirty Money from E-cigarette Maker Behind Alarming Rise in Youth Tobacco Use

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – May 9, 2019 – The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is exposing high rates of political contributions by e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, Inc. as landmark legislation to curb skyrocketing youth e-cigarette use is considered by the California Legislature. ACS CAN’s Snuff Tobacco Money Out of California Politics website tracks state politicians who take donations from tobacco companies and that includes dirty money from e-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs, which the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) says is behind a nationwide youth e-cigarette epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data in February showing e-cigarette use among high schoolers jumped an alarming 78% in the last year. Assembly Bill (AB) 739 and Senate Bill (SB) 38 would restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products statewide including kid-friendly flavored e-cigarettes as well as menthol cigarettes that have been marketed disproportionately to African American communities for decades, resulting in higher lung cancer rates for African American men.

What happens in California could spread across the country. For that reason, Juul Labs has launched a major lobbying campaign this year, pouring money into the pockets of lawmakers trying to sway votes at the California Capitol.

“ACS CAN is shining a light on attempts by the tobacco industry to influence lawmakers and that includes e-cigarette makers spurring a youth e-cigarette epidemic,” said ACS CAN California Senior Government Relations Director Tim Gibbs. “Candy and fruit flavored tobacco products are a key strategy to bait teens into tobacco use and right now Juul, the most popular brand among kids, is under the Federal Drug Administration’s microscope as the country grapples with a deeply troubling public health crisis. The California Legislature must not cave to Juul’s political influence when the health of California kids is at stake.”

ACS CAN is a co-sponsor of both SB 38 and AB 739. The Assembly bill didn’t get set for a hearing before the Assembly Governmental Organization (GO) Committee this session before the policy deadline, ensuring the bill will not advance in 2019. This delay should raise questions among constituents about the commitment to public health, because GO committee members have taken a total of $23,500 in political contributions from Juul in just the first quarter of this year (along with $89,300 in additional tobacco money from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, which makes the No. 1 selling menthol cigarette in America).

While AB 739 is dead for this year, its companion bill, SB 38, has a chance of being voted on by the full Senate by the end of this month. However, the bill faces an uphill battle in the Assembly because it will need to survive the same Assembly GO Committee that has not advanced AB739. ACS CAN has tracked the following tobacco contributions since 2014 as part of its Snuff Tobacco Money Out of California Politics campaign:

Tobacco Contributions Since 2014


Statewide Elected Officials


California Assembly members


Members of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee members


Avg. amount per Assembly member


Avg. amount per GO committee member


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