Philip Morris Lobbying to Divert Settlement Funds
COMMENTARY: Bill Godshall
Dec 9, 1999
While responsible public health and civil justice advocates
have been urging States to spend an adequate amount
(i.e. 25% -30%) of settlement funds for comprehensive
tobacco control programs to reduce overall tobacco use
(because these programs would achieve the stated goals
of the AG's lawsuits), lobbyists for Philip Morris and other
tobacco pushers have been lobbying States to divert
tobacco control funds to ineffective programs that are
designed to appear intended to reduce youth smoking.
The following news article from Oklahoma cites a PM
spokesperson as admitting that their lobbyists have been
advocating these "youth only" programs in all 50 States.
Unless health advocates expose and aggressively oppose
these efforts by Philip Morris and other tobacco pushers,
future smoking rates will not decrease significantly and
States will continue to spend increasing amounts of money
treating tobacco diseases for the following reasons.
- Youth comprise only about 5% of all cigarette addicts,
- About 99% of state and local government healthcare
expenditures for smoking are due to adult smoking.
- More than half of all adults and youth are still involuntarily
poisoned by secondhand tobacco smoke.
- Other than a few exceptions over the past 40 years, the
programs most effective in reducing youth smoking
have been programs intended to reduce adult smoking
and to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke.
- Most government funded programs purported to
discourage youth from smoking have been ineffective or
counterproductive (due to tobacco industry meddling).
- According to many youth surveys, about 80% of 7th grade
smokers, 75% of 9th grade smokers, and 65% of 12th
grade smokers live in households in which an older person
smokes (i.e. parent(s) and/or older sibling).
- Adolescents naturally desire to emulate adult behavior, or
that which they perceive as adult behavior (e.g. smoking).
- Programs that tell youth not to smoke until they're adults
actually encourage naturally rebellious teens to smoke.
- Just as States don't discriminate against other disease
sufferers based upon age, youth-only smoking programs
discriminate against adults suffering from nicotine addiction.
While public health advocates have responsibly advocated
government policies and programs to reduce illegal tobacco
industry marketing to youth, tobacco lobbyists have been
aggressively lobbying (and giving huge campaign contributions
to) elected officials to establish counterproductive government
policies and programs that subtly encourage youth smoking.
And while health advocates have appropriately urged States
to fund specific programs that can effectively reduce youth
demand for and access to tobacco, these programs should
comprise just a small portion (e.g. 15% - 25%) of the overall
budget of a State's comprehensive tobacco control program,
similar to recommendations by the CDC.
- - - - - -
Firm Asks State to Prevent Youth Smoking
Date: Dec 8, 1999
By Paul English / Capitol Bureau
Tobacco giant Philip Morris is advocating that Oklahoma
spend one-fourth of the tobacco settlement money it
receives next year for youth smoking prevention programs,
a spokesman said Tuesday.
That would involve $16 million of the $66 million the state
will receive next year as it's installment of the tobacco
Brendan McCormick, manager of media relations for the
company, said Philip Morris representatives have been
giving a similar message to officials in all 50 states.
The Oklahoman contacted McCormick after learning that the
company's suggestion will be included in a bill to be handled
by Sen. Cal Hobson, D-Lexington, and Rep. Larry Adair, D-Stilwell.
Oklahoma is expected to receive $2.3 billion from the
national tobacco settlement, with annual payments spread
over 25 years. The first payment of about $24 million is due
to arrive later this month, and the next check will be for about
$66 million and arrive in April.
Dividing up the money will be a major focus of the Legislature
when it convenes Feb. 7. The first $24 million will go into the
state general fund because efforts to get it put it in a special
McCormick said the settlement agreement permits the
tobacco companies to lobby for youth smoking prevention.
He said Philip Morris has not taken a position on any other
issues involving the money.
"When the settlement agreement was signed in November
1998, we realized that advocating that the states spend a
significant portion of those funds on youth smoking prevention
efforts was consistent with what we were trying to accomplish,"
"We want to try to make an impact on reducing the number of
kids who smoke and helping to prevent kids from starting in
the first place."
The company studied what experts had to say about youth
smoking prevention and tried to follow their recommendations,
Those include a comprehensive program focusing on
effective television advertising, support of successful school-based
programs, some community-based programs and
denying young people access to tobacco, McCormick said.
He cited a program called "life skills training" that he said the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified as an
effective program in reducing smoking.
McCormick said the company is not recommending a "Philip
Morris program" but opinions shared by a lot of people on
both sides of the debate. He said the company has no
position on how long a significant portion of the money
should go to youth smoking programs.
"That's really up to them, and I think each state is approaching
it in a different way," he said.
Asked if campaign contributions by the Philip Morris Political
Action Committee might be used in the effort to get legislation
passed, McCormick said, "We lobby, and that involves
communicating our position.
"We also support legislators who may support our position,
but I think you're trying to make a link that's not there."
McCormick said Philip Morris has not issued news releases
about its activities in Oklahoma or other states.