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Tobacco Industry Wins Tax Battles

Tobacco Industry Wins Tax Battles

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How much did the tobacco industry give to state candidates, committees, and ballot measures during the 2012 election cycle? 

Nearly $54 million.

The National Institute on Money in State Politics coordinated a simultaneous release today of Big Tobacco Wins Tax Battles with the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2013. The Institute found that tobacco interests contributed 95 percent($51 million) of their 2011–2012 contributions in five states: California, Florida, Missouri, Virginia, and Illinois. The top five recipients were:

Californians Against Out-Of-Control Taxes & Spending (Oppose Proposition 29)


Florida Republican Party


Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association (Oppose Proposition B)


California Republican Party


Florida Democratic Party




Ballot Measures

The tobacco industry spent more than $47 million to help defeat ballot measures that would have raised taxes on tobacco products. In California alone, it spent $46 million to defeat Proposition 29, far more than the $18 million raised by supporters. Tobacco also spent more than $800,000 in Missouri to fight Proposition B. That ballot initiative won, despite opponents being outspent by tax hike supporters nearly three to one.

Legislative Efforts

A number of states tried to address tobacco issues via legislative action. Tobacco-related legislation become law in only two states: Illinois passed a tobacco tax increase, and Indiana passed a smoking ban in public places. Most of the proposed tobacco-related laws across the country died in committee.

In the 2011–2012 election cycle, tobacco industry donors contributed $3.5 million to state-level candidates, and $3 million to political party committees, with 76 percent going to Republican candidates and committees. The industry’s strategic investment paid off at the polls: nearly 79 percent of those contributions went to candidates who subsequently won their elections and are now in the position to decide tobacco policy in their state.

Read the full report for complete details on the industry's giving.

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