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.