- 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.