-Alan Yeck, Founder

Smoking addiction kills 7 million people every year and has for generations. 50 million? 100 million? The number of dead is inconsequential – it’s the corporate bottom line that matters.

I remember watching in the mid-1990s, seven CEOs of the nation’s largest cigarette manufacturers testified to congress that they didn’t believe cigarettes were addictive. They lied their asses off, and were allowed to lie their asses off by the same congress they were testifying to. “A nod is as good as a wink to a blind bat.” It was just another show, just another hollow chocolate bunny to appear as if congress was truly looking out for the American people. Another day, another lie, another bag of cash in their desk drawers from the tobacco industry. 

Meanwhile, their addicts filled hospitals until their damaged lungs could not long process one more breath. Then they died. Globally, tobacco causes more than 7 million death per year. Every year but it also generates over $130 billion dollars, net revenue, a year for those companies and their stock holders.  $18,571 for every dead smoker

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the world. Preventable being the key word but then we get into individual rights. It’s my right to smoke if I want to. Right? That’s the same horseshit excuse used to justify anything the government wants to justify. Let me expand on that a bit more and connect some dots on their pointed little heads. 

25 years later and the only thing that has changed in the number of deaths and more money being made. Collectively these cigarette companies generate tens of billions of dollars yearly in revenue and their executives themselves makes tens of millions of dollars in salary with generous golden parachutes while a million Americans die each year of lung cancer from smoking. Not one of the seven CEOs, nor any of their children smoked. Tobacco company executives know they are creating addicts with their products, know they are killing people with their products but they are making a lot of money so why care? The US Government should have outlawed cigarettes (and now vaping) generations ago when studies showed the dangers of smoking. But because they were able to make so much money off of taxing cigarettes, plus the individual campaign contributions, plus all the other perks tobacco lobbyists bring to their congressional puppets. 

Tobacco companies spent more than $56 million dollars last year to ensure their product would continue to be on the markets. 280 lobbyists with 221 one of those being revolving door lobbyists (where former government regulators, Congressional staff and even members of Congress taking new jobs with lobbying firms and private sector organizations that, in many cases, they used to oversee). All legal, because they wrote the laws while we were napping. 

Health care expenses attributed to smoking-related diseases globally exceeded $400 billion dollars but when combined with productively losses due to illness/missing work or removed from the workforce the economic impact jumps to $1.5 trillion. Heroin isn’t legal and sold in stores and gas stations. Cyanide isn’t next to the aspirin so why do we allow cigarettes to be legal, marketed, easily obtained when we know…we know it’s killing us? Tradition? John Wayne (who died of lung cancer)? Progressing as a society requires these ‘smoker’s rights’ to be reviewed and addressed without the corporate money on the political tables. We always hear how much healthcare costs and how we cannot, as a country, cover everyone but perhaps if we were smarter on preventing illnesses we would find that we can in fact take care of our citizens and help them live a long, productive, non-brown-teeth-stained lives. Perhaps. 

Top 20 Members Receiving Tobacco Money Contributions

Holding, George (R-NC)$63,755
Kaine, Tim (D-VA)$60,763
Tillis, Thom (R-NC)$57,850
McCarthy, Kevin (R-CA)$48,350
Cole, Tom (R-OK)$41,765
Walker, Mark (R-NC)$39,850
Aderholt, Robert B (R-AL)$36,000
Scalise, Steve (R-LA)$34,800
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY)$34,600
Rouzer, David (R-NC)$34,100
Blackburn, Marsha (R-TN)$33,821
Nelson, Bill (D-FL)$33,438
Roskam, Peter (R-IL)$31,426
Warner, Mark (D-VA)$30,300
Yoder, Kevin (R-KS)$28,773
Hudson, Richard (R-NC)$28,200
Sessions, Pete (R-TX)$27,850
McHenry, Patrick (R-NC)$27,500
Budd, Ted (R-NC)$27,450
Sinema, Kyrsten (D-AZ)$26,555

All donations took place during the 2017-2018 election cycle and were released by the Federal Election Commission on Monday, June 10, 2019. Center for Responsive Politics.