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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 18, 1998
12:33 PM
CONTACT:  INFACT
Melinda Mann  or Kathryn Mulvey
Tel: 617-742-4583 FAX: 617-367-0191
Congress Knuckles Under to Philip Morris and RJR Nabisco
INFACT Launches Boycott Expansion
 
WASHINGTON - June 18 - The Senate's killing of the McCain tobacco bill is a vivid demonstration of the tobacco industry's political clout, and a telling reminder that despite Big Tobacco's "big government" rhetoric, there have in recent years been no major national legislative advances on this critical public health issue.

"That the US Senate is not responsive to the public outcry for a tough national tobacco control policy is unfortunately not a surprise," said Kathryn Mulvey, Executive Director of the national corporate watchdog organization INFACT. "This is not a partisan issue. It is an issue of brazen political influence by corporations," continued Mulvey. So far in the 1997-1998 election cycle, Philip Morris has led all other corporations in soft money contributions, and in the first six months spent nearly $10 million on lobbying. In recent weeks the tobacco industry has run a $50 million campaign to generate opposition to the McCain bill.

INFACT activists nationwide have been voicing their concerns about the McCain bill since it came to the Senate floor, calling for stronger measures that would not limit the industry's liability in lawsuits. "The momentum is squarely on the side of public health protection. That's why Philip Morris and RJR Nabisco tried to cut a sweetheart deal last year. When the public demanded more, they abruptly reverted to multimillion-dollar scare tactics and tried-and-true techniques of squelching Congressional debate," notes Mulvey. Of some 174 pieces of federal tobacco control legislation introduced in the late 1980's and early 1990's, only two passed, and the vast majority were killed before they ever came to a vote.

"Congress is so beholden to the big-moneyed corporate interests that it cannot even take decisive action on a health issue as clear-cut as tobacco," says INFACT Campaign Director Wendy Call. "In such a climate, people have more power as consumers than constituents. Concerned citizens must voice their protest directly to the tobacco industry by boycotting Kraft and Nabisco - the major consumer brands of Philip Morris and RJR Nabisco, and by letting their corporate headquarters in New York City know about it." This summer INFACT Volunteer Organizers in a dozen cities nationwide will be building INFACT's Tobacco Industry Boycott, which has been in effect since 1994.

"We will win changes that protect the health and lives of future generations from tobacco addiction-by affecting Big Tobacco's bottom line with direct economic pressure, by fighting state by state to recover health care costs, and by defending the FDA's limits on youth-oriented tobacco promotion," concludes Call. "Eventually, the US Congress will be shamed into action."

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Founded in 1977, INFACT's purpose is to stop life-threatening abuses of transnational corporations and increase their accountability to people around the world. INFACT's recent book, Global Aggression: the case for World Standards and Bold U.S. Action Challenging Philip Morris and RJR Nabisco, exposes the worldwide abuses of the US Tobacco giants.

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