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. – 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:
The FDA reports sales of Juul increased 600% between 2016 and 2017. Altria, parent company to cigarette giant Philip Morris, now owns a 35% stake in the San Francisco-based manufacturer of the Juul e-cigarette pods. A recent New York Times article reports on Juul’s massive lobbying efforts nationwide.
“As they spend outrageous sums of money to addict children and adults to their products, the tobacco industry also tries to use their financial influence to addict elected officials to campaign contributions derived from tobacco money,” said Gibbs. “ACS CAN urges candidates and lawmakers up for reelection to be accountable to public health and reject tobacco industry contributions.”
ACS CAN asks candidates to reject the deception, pain and suffering that comes from tobacco campaign contributions. Tobacco-related diseases continue to be the leading cause of preventable death in the state. To track officeholders and lawmakers who have taken tobacco contributions as well as the politicians who have promised to refuse tobacco money, go to www.notobaccomoney.org.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.
Paid for by Snuff Tobacco Money Out of California Politics campaign, sponsored by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Inc.
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