May 13, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Americans for Prosperity is just another group fronting for Big Tobacco in the No on 29 campaign

Knowing that they must do their best to stay out of the public eye, the tobacco companies running and financing the campaign against Proposition 29, the initiative Californians will vote on this June to raise cigarette taxes by $1 a pack to fund anti-smoking activities and medical research, the cigarette companies have tried to hide behind various "independent" groups that they have funded for years.

I have already talked about the financial connections between the California Taxpayers Association (CalTax) and the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Now another group has appeared -- Americans for Prosperity.  (News stories quoting AFP: story 1, story2.)

AFP was created is the current name for Citizens for a Sound Economy, which the tobacco companies have paid millions of dollars over the years (see, for example, this Philip Morris budget document showing a $1,090,000 payment in 1999 with more in 2000) to oppose tobacco taxes and otherwise support the tobacco companies' agenda.

In fact, Citizens for a Sound Economy (which split into AFP and FreedomWorks) made essentially the same arguments on behalf of Big Tobacco in its unsuccessful campaign against California Proposition 10 in 1998 (example 1, example2example 3).  Indeed, the CSE 1998 pledge against Prop 10 is eerily familiar to the the FreedomWorks 2012 pledge against Prop 29.

The media and the public need to know that these "independent" groups are just fronts for  the tobacco companies.  (Here are two stories where reporters treated AFP as just an interested party rather than any industry-supported front group

AFP (or CalTax or the Califorrnia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) is not the real party at interest in the battle over Prop 29.  The media should not let Philip Morris, Reynolds and the other tobacco interests hide behind them.

Indeed, a quick look at the "About Us" section on the No on 29 website lists a who's who of organizations that have taken tobacco money and fronted for the tobacco companies (try looking them up in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library).  The tobacco companies -- including Philip Morris and Reynolds -- despite putting up the money and, no doubt, calling the shots. left themselves off the list.

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