Friday, April 27 , 2018, 1:43 am | Fair 50º


Letter to the Editor: Tobacco Campaign Contributions

More than 440,000 Americans die early, costly, preventable deaths from tobacco, and more than 2,000 children begin illegal tobacco use each day. In August 2006, after a criminal prosecution extending over eight years, the U.S. tobacco cartel was found guilty on federal racketeering charges for “marketing and selling their lethal product with zeal, deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted,” (U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler). This same cartel spends more than $1.8 million a year in California in contributions to elected officials and candidates, to limit regulation of their products and stop effective tobacco control that would reduce smoking and thereby reduce the astronomical costs to the public of tobacco-related disease. It is deeply troubling to me that any candidate for public office would be complicit in so seriously undermining the public interest and public health.

In light of the extraordinary dangers posed by tobacco products and the tobacco industry’s defense of their use, I call upon my opponent in the race for the 19th state Senate District, Tony Strickland, to return all contributions received from tobacco companies or their representatives, including:

» The more than $6,000 received directly by Strickland for Senate for the current campaign.

» The $50,000 received by the Ventura County Republican Party that is clearly earmarked for this state Senate contest.

» The more than $85,000 that Strickland campaign committees have received directly from tobacco interests throughout his career in the Assembly.

My record as a public official is clear. Tobacco Industry money has no influence on my vote. As a member of the Assembly and as a candidate for the 19th Senate District I have not and will not solicit or accept contributions from tobacco companies. I received one of the highest scores in the Legislature on tobacco control issues from independent reviews by the UC San Francisco Medical School. As a representative of the 19th Senate District I will advocate for a return to the public health strategies first implemented in the early 1990s in California, which included highly effective media communications and public education on the dangers of tobacco, and caused immediate and significant decreases in the rates of smoking among Californians.

The American Medical Association recommends that its members, state and local medical societies, to determine whether candidates for federal state and local offices accept gifts or contributions of any kind from the tobacco industry, and publicize their findings to both their members and to the public (AMA Resolution CSA Rep. 3, A-04). I urge California AMA Chapters, doctors, nurses, everyone in health-related professions and in the media to carefully monitor the spending by the tobacco industry in the campaign for Senate District 19, so that the public can safely predict how their representative will vote and advocate on tobacco control-related issues.

19th state Senate District candidate Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara

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