Reynolds Tobacco Fills Front Groups' Coffers

Reynolds American, the parent company of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, is spending approximately $40 million in an attempt to defeat anti-smoking ballot initiatives to be voted on in November. Part of the tobacco industry campaign involves having front groups promoting alternative measures to those proposed by tobacco control groups. In Arizona, Reynolds is backing the Non-Smoker Protection Committee, while in Ohio it is supporting Smoke Less Ohio. "It is a significant amount of money, but it's very expensive to do these because it's like a political campaign," Carole Crosslin, a Reynolds spokeswoman told Associated Press. Shelly Kiser, a spokeswoman for SmokeFreeOhio, said "the tobacco industry has fought us every step of the way. They have taken out more than 30 lawsuits against us ... It's been horrible." The domain name for the website of Smoke Less Ohio was registered by the PR and lobbying company, Strategic Public Partners.


MSNBC just covered this story ("[ A smoke screen at the ballot box?]," August 7, 2006). From a secretly-recorded exchange in Phoenix, Arizona:

Petition gatherer #1: Do you smoke?

NBC: No, I don't.

Petition gatherer #1: Oh, yeah. Well, this is The Non-Smoker Protection Act.

NBC: So, if I am a non-smoker, that's the one to do?

Petition gatherer #2: Yeah.

NBC: So this is a good one if you're a non-smoker?

Petition gatherer #3: Yeah, this is a good one because I have asthma, that's why I believe in this one.

NBC: This basically is a ban then on smoking?

Petition Gatherer #3: Yeah.

Well, that is just not true. If you really read the seven-page Arizona Non-Smoker Protection Act, you'll see it allows smoking almost anywhere liquor is sold.