Some Welcome Tobacco Industry Activism

I’ve not been very optimistic that Donald Trump was going to do anything for smokers. He doesn’t smoke or drink. He doesn’t even drink coffee. So what was he ever likely to do for them?

I’ve also not been very optimistic about tobacco companies doing anything for their reviled and persecuted customers. Perhaps that’s because they are themselves equally reviled and persecuted, and have been reviled and persecuted for far longer than their customers have been.

But H/T Slugbop for this Guardian piece, which reports that tobacco companies have become a lot more active since the election of Donald Trump. They seem to be much more optimistic about him than I am:

Tobacco companies have moved swiftly to strengthen their grip on Washington politics, ramping up lobbying efforts and securing significant regulatory wins in the first six months of the Trump era.

Day one of Donald Trump’s presidency started with tobacco donations, senior figures have been put in place within the Trump administration who have deep ties to tobacco, and lobbying activity has increased significantly.

“Tobacco industry influence in Washington is pervasive, in many different ways,” Blumenthal said. “They have an active presence on the Hill, they meet frequently with administrative agencies, on hugely significant issues such as regulation of e-cigarettes, tobacco packaging and warnings.”

America’s largest cigarette manufacturers, Reynolds American and Altria Group, donated $1.5m to help the new president celebrate his inauguration. The donations allowed executives to dine and mingle with top administration officials and their families…

“With the new Trump administration and Congress trying to roll back health and safety regulations, generally the tobacco industry is seizing the opportunity to mount its own assault on the programs and policies that have reduced smoking in this country,” said Vince Willmore, a spokesperson for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The Food and Drug Administration has twice delayed legal briefs to defend regulations of e-cigarettes, products cigarette makers say are the future. Summer deadlines for cigar and e-cigarette makers to file applications with the FDA, which regulates the products, have all been delayed by the Trump administration.

And the high-profile attorney Noel Francisco, who once argued for Reynolds that including a quit-line phone number on cigarette packs amounted to government advocacy against smoking, has been nominated for the post of solicitor general, the government’s top attorney….

Trump himself, notoriously secretive about his personal wealth, has revealed that he had investments in tobacco companies, including Philip Morris International, its American spinoff Altria Group, and Reynolds American Inc.

In the past three years, Trump’s financial disclosures show he earned up to $2.1m from tobacco holdings in diversified portfolios. Trump said he sold his stocks this spring (although he did not provide proof).

For Trump’s inaugural celebration, Reynolds American gave $1m. Altria Group gave $500,000. The US Chamber of Commerce, which has been fiercely pro-tobacco in recent years, gave $25,000.

Maybe these tobacco companies know something I don’t know? Donald Trump doesn’t smoke or drink, but I often think that to be anti-smoking is in a very profound sense to be anti-American. Tobacco is the export product that first made America: everything else is extra. And Trump is anything but anti-American.

Anyway, H/T Smoking Lamp for a Reuters report:

Philip Morris International … [has been] …holding secret meetings with delegates from the government of Vietnam and other treaty members.

The object of these clandestine activities: the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, or FCTC, a treaty aimed at reducing smoking globally. Reuters has found that Philip Morris International is running a secretive campaign to block or weaken treaty provisions that save millions of lives by curbing tobacco use.

In an internal document, the company says it supported the enactment of the treaty. But Philip Morris has come to view it as a “regulatory runaway train” driven by “anti-tobacco extremists” – a description contained in the document, a 2014 PowerPoint presentation.

More tobacco industry activism! And this time aimed at the treaty which is being used to strangle smokers all over the world.

Both the Guardian and Reuters report this activism as a bad thing, of course. But I can”t see it as anything but a good thing.

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14 Responses to Some Welcome Tobacco Industry Activism

  1. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Yes its a good thing Frank. America grows a lot of tobacco and Mr Trump is very supportive of American jobs unlike the assholes who inhabit the Guardian and the BBC from their London elite bases.
    Time now for the tobacco companies to look after their customers now. They could start in the UK by bringing in some interesting new blends like more Turkish/Macedonian and Perique tobaccos.

    • narbanor says:

      “They could start in the UK by bringing in some interesting new blends”

      Except that the only thing the TobCom bigwigs despise more than their own product is their customers themselves, i.e. they couldn’t care less about your personal preferences and enjoyment. Ever since the onslaught on smoking, and then on smokers, began some seven decades ago the conniving scumbags have been in bed with the antismoking cartel, providing us with a prime example of ‘the integration of State and economy”… Well until someone comes up with a more viable hypothesis that’s my take on the matter.
      And they operate globally, so have us cornered wherever we go, which means their whole corrupt edifice can only and will only be brought down globally. Though initially a single brave nation could stand its ground and expel such well-organized, compulsively lying thugs from its soil, triggering a domino effect.

  2. buckothemoose says:

    “the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids”
    It’s illegal for kids to buy tobacco, now bugger off!

  3. RdM says:

    From the Guardian article:

    In the first quarter of 2017, tobacco companies and trade associations spent $4.7m lobbying federal officials.

    Typical tactical propaganda piece likely placed by TC with “scary” numbers.
    They seem about right so far in 2017:
    shows annual lobbying for tobacco; it’s been on a decline since 2012, shows just over $4.9m so far for 2017, looks to have been about or nearly $20m in 2016, with 171 lobbyists.

    In contrast, the pharmaceutical i(and health products) industry
    is up to $78,469,713 already this year, was just over $240m in 2016, with 1,149 lobbyists.

    The individual company campaign contributions are shown further down each page.
    All the big names are there. 21 Pharma over $1m, only 2 tobacco over $1m.

    Poor little “big tobacco” compared with “Big Pharma”, eh?

    Maybe someone should tweet Jessica Glenza or better the Editor to do a companion piece on pharmaceutical companies campaign contributions for balance and contrast, fair reporting, all that – especially since no comments are possible on this propaganda piece.

    Or better yet, a series on the pharmaceutical industry, how often it’s been sued, how many deaths attributed – no, actually recorded – from it’s products… and how much money it spends in its fight against tobacco, and support for tobacco control.

  4. beobrigitte says:

    Trump said he sold his stocks this spring (although he did not provide proof)
    Why would Trump want to do that? Perhaps tobacco control is tightening it’s claws on Trump?
    Even anti-smokers invest into tobacco to 1. keep up-to-date (are they are too scared about their lies being challenged?) and 2. take early retirement/invest into more anti-smoker nastiness of the profits made.

    I would love to celebrate the Guardian article as good news, but I cautiously wait and see.

    • waltc says:

      He’d likely have to sell (or put into blind trust) all his stocks to avoid implications of a conflict of interest, and tobacco would be high on the potential “conflict” list.

      As for actual legislation on the federal level (the fed gov has no control over what states and cities do) there seems to be some movement in congress to overturn the FDA’s control over cigars and ecigs, but so far no word that Carson (housing secy) is undoing the ban on smoking in all federally subsidized public housing, and that’s the biggie.

  5. Hi Frank – don’t know your email address – here is the video for your Smoky Drinky Bar Website.

  6. Clicky says:

  7. slugbop007 says:

    Just starting to watch a PBS doc on ‘Money and Medicine’. slugbop007

  8. smokingscot says:

    I feel Trump would be a total sap to sell his shares in tobacco companies and leave it like that. Their performance has been stellar and those who depend on decent dividend yield have been well served by these companies.

    So okay he flogs them, then buys them back. Wave a sales slip to the media and even get hos broker to conform the transaction.

    Then buy them back at the first dip in the market.

    Tobacco companies have every right to defend their market and reduce friction on their operations. The irony here is they’ve been at the forefront of smokeless and e-cigarettes, so should Trump manage a 2nd term as Boss Man, you could see them emerge as the dominant players in all three sectors.

    And should he then be replaced by one of his underlings, perhaps even Mr. Pence, the as regards their share price, well the sky’s the limit.

    Now should Mrs May be replaced by Rees-Mog and subsequently go on to win the next election in his own right then we’ll see pretty much the same thing happen here.

  9. Mark Jarratt, Broome, Western Australia says:

    Totally excellent, fabulous, and every other superlative! Authoritarian paternalistic health cultists must be challenged at every turn. I am inspired by thelastfurlong, a charming logical and well spoken lady. 👏

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