April 28, 2018

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

RJ Reynolds Tobacco continues to be sole funder of Prop E, the company’s effort to repeal San Francisco’s prohibition on selling flavored tobacco products

The latest campaign finance statements are out and RJ Reynolds continues to be the sole financer of “No on E”, the referendum campaign to overturn San Francisco’s prohibition on the sale of flavored tobacco products, with $9,041,824.  They are saturating people’s mailboxes with mailers touting freedom, government overreach, and crime, the industry’s longstanding arguments against everything.  You can read this on the No on E website.  Of course, they never mention their true motivation: RJR wants to protect its sales of menthol and other flavored tobacco products.

For a trip down memory lane, watch these videos of old tobacco industry political ads from 1978 (Proposition 5), 1980 (Proposition 10), 1982 (Kern County Proposition A), and 1983 (San Francisco Proposition P, at about 20 minutes into the video) where the industry was trying to block smoking restrictions.  While the tobacco industry did defeat smoking restrictions in 1978 and 1980, by 1983 voters in San Francisco saw through their arguments and upheld San Francisco’s smoking restriction law.  (I don’t know the outcome of Prop A.)

The interesting thing about what has happened since then is that none of the disasters that the tobacco companies were predicting in their ads materialized.  The only thing that happened is that the air got cleaner, people got healthier, and the industry made less money because people smoked less.

To date the Yes on E side has raised $780,252, less than a tenth of what RJR has spent.  The big donors are the Tobacco Free Kids Action Fund, Michael Bloomberg, and the American Cancer Society.  The American Heart Association and American Lung Association have kicked in a few hundred dollars each; I am surprised that they are not more engaged given the national (maybe even global) importance of this fight.  There are also a handful of other small donors.

I am still looking for the YES ads in the old campaigns.  The one I have is this great ad that we ran in the Yes on P campaign in 1983.  (I was the campaign treasurer.) Not only did we win the election, but the ad won an Addy, the advertising equivalent of an Oscar.



The American Heart Association has already made a significant contribution in the last two weeks to the effort that will appear in the next campaign financial report.

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