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Tobacco-Funded Politicians Less Likely to Back Teen Bill, Study Says

September 02, 1997|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers who received contributions from tobacco companies were three times more likely to have voted to block spending to help states fight cigarette sales to minors, says a new analysis by smoking foes.

The Food and Drug Administration requested $34 million, to be distributed to states, to enforce new federal rules to prevent teenage tobacco sales. The full Senate is expected to decide this week how much anti-tobacco money to give the FDA.

An attempt to provide the full amount was blocked in July. A Senate committee voted to provide just $4.9 million, and the full Senate voted 52-48 to turn back an amendment by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) that would have added the remaining funds.

Now an analysis of campaign contributions from tobacco companies shows that senators who opposed Harkin's amendment had received 15 times more tobacco money during the last election year than did supporters of the FDA funding.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said that of the 47 senators who had received money from the tobacco industry, 83% voted to table Harkin's amendment. Of the 53 senators who took no tobacco money, 25% voted to table the amendment.

The pattern held true in the House too. A House committee has voted to give the FDA $24 million to fight teen smoking, and an amendment for the full $34 million was defeated. Lawmakers who voted against the money took, on average, five times as much money from the tobacco industry as their colleagues, the financial analysis found.

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