May 22, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

American Cancer Society really steps up its support for Prop 29

Today the American Cancer Society really put its money where its mouth is and made two contributions totaling $2.5 million to the Yes on 29 campaign ($2,420,000 from ACS and $80,000 from the ACS Cancer Action Network).  Laurene Powell Jobs (wife of Steve Jobs) also gave $25,000.

According to MapLight, this brings the total money to the Yes campaign to $11.1 million.  (The amount for the actual election is a couple million less, because this amount includes the money spent to qualify the initiative.)

Needless to say Big Tobacco is spending more.  Of the $40.7 million "donated" so far to the No on 29 campaign, 97% comes directly from tobacco companies. MapLight reports $27.3 million from Altra (Philip Morris and other tobacco holdings), $12.1 million from Reynolds American (RJR and other tobacco holdings)and $40,000 from the International Cigar and Pipe Retailers Assn.

This makes the tobacco companies' campaign bigger than any national super-PAC, except Mitt Romney's.  If this was a national campaign Big tobacco would have spent about $315 million by now.

As I noted before, the tobacco companies are doing their best to hid their role in the campaign.  They refuse to speak to the press and don't even appear on their campaign's "About Us" list on the No on 29 web site.  (They also leave themselves off the list of endorsing organizations in their mailers, which, like the About Us page is a who's who of industry front groups.)

The only other sizeable contributor to the No campaign is the California Republican Party, which gave $1.1 million.  Given media reports of the Republican Party's poor financial health, one wonders where they are getting all this money.  I wouldn't be surprised if Altria/Philip Morris and Reynolds were very generous contributors to the Republicans after the June election.

In any event, thanks to ACS's major commitment (as well as the others that have been supporting the "yes" campaign), this is still very much a horse race.

Given that it is likely to be a low turn-out election, it is likely to all come down to which side's supporters are more willing to take the trouble to vote.

A win in California will give the State the resources to reach former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop's goal of a smokefree society in California within 5 years or so.   (We have estimated that the combined effect of the tax and the revitalized anti-smoking campaign will bring prevalence down to 8.4%, at which point it might just collapse.

By cutting smoking Prop 29 would keep the $800 million that currently flows out of California back to Philip Morris, Reynolds and other tobacco interests in California where it will generate $2 billion in new economic activity and 12,000 new jobs.  While health forces did not conceive of Prop 29 as a way to help bring unemployment down in California and cut the state budget deficit (because people and business will pay taxes on that new $2 billion), Prop 29 will make a real contribution not only to the State's health but also its economy.

As other states (and countries) see that effect, it will encourage them to copy Prop 29, just as many copied Proposition 99 back in 1988.

For these reasons, this election is of national and global important and the tobacco companies know it.

If the tobacco companies start skywriting (as they did shortly before they lost Proposition P in San Francisco in 1983, when voters upheld the San Francisco workplace smoking ordinance despite a huge tobacco industry campaign), we will know Big Tobacco is worried.   If I were them, I would be.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.