April 12, 2018

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

RJR isn’t bragging about its single-handed backing of effort to overturn SF tobacco flavor ban

Big Tobacco usually brags about all their civic activities as part of their “corporate social responsibility” campaigns designed to convince  the public and public policymakers what great citizens they are

But that’s not the case for RJ Reynolds Tobacco, who so far has single-handedly financed the referendum – Proposition E on the June ballot -- to overturn San Francisco’s prohibition on flavored tobacco products (to the tune of $3.5 million so far).   They certainly don’t brag about it on their internet ads like the ones below.

If you click on “Who funded this ad” and scroll way to the bottom of the page, you find that RJR provided “major funding” for a group of concerned citizens who are opposing this law that will likely cut RJR profits because they sell so many menthol cigarettes to African Americans, kids, and others. 

Scroll way down the page and you find:

“Major funding” is the legally required language – San Francisco requires listing of the top three funders in political ads.  In this case, even that is misleading: It should say “only.”

And the same statement is in tiny type at the bottom of the No on E website.

I’ve got to give RJ Reynolds credit for being thorough.  When I looked at the San Francisco Chronicle editorial urging a “yes” vote on Proposition E (to implement the flavor ban), a “no” ad popped up right next to the editorial. (The "no" ad seemed gone when I checked on April 13.)

You can see the Yes on E website here.  Their three big contributors are Michael Bloomberg, the American Cancer Society, and the Ca



While I despise Big Tobacco, I must call you out on this statement: "... RJ Reynolds Tobacco, who so far has single-handedly financed the referendum – Proposition E on the June ballot."

RJ Reynolds has certainly been the major source of "No on E" funding, it is NOT the only source of funding, much of which has been provided by vaping supply retailers, as well as their customers, myself included.

I wish that those who support vaping as a proven method to stop smoking cigarettes could afford to do all the funding themselves, but that isn't possible. I also wish that someone would publicize who will benefit if E passes. It certainly won't be beneficial to those like myself, who finally was able to quit using regular tobacco products in favor of vaping.

While nicotine is still the "active ingredient" in vaping, I have dropped from 24mgs of nicotine down to 3mg, and I'll soon be down to 0mgs.

So, I have to ask you this question; ... if vaping is being banned because it contains nicotine and is flavored, why isn't Nicorette gum and similar products - which also contain nicotine and flavoring - included in the ban?

For what it's worth, I also wish that vape juice makers, large and small, had not decided to use what appears to be "kid friendly" packaging when their industry began. I hope you realize that attracting kids was NOT the original intent; ... attracting adults who still had a "sweet tooth" was. The evidence of this fact can be seen in the many "kid" flavors that gin and vodka makers now market. You can't attack vape juice makers unless you also target those who manufacture gin and vodka, etc. in flavors including "PB & J", "cotton candy", "buttered popcorn" and many others.


Up until a week or so ago, the campaign finance records only listed contributions from RJ Reynolds.  Last week, Swedish Match, an maker of smokeless tobacco, kicked in $10,000 in cash and a $6500 in kind contribution.

None of the filings show any money from vape shops or anyone else.

Proposition E does not ban vaping.  Tobacco flavored e-cigarettes (as well as all other kinds of tobacco products without other flavors) would still be legal and available.

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