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Tobacco Industry Puts Profits Before Kids in Defeating Oregon Ballot Initiative
Date:11/7/2007

Statement of William V. Corr, Executive Director, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- By telling $12 million worth of lies, the Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds tobacco companies have again protected their profits at the expense of children by defeating a ballot initiative to increase Oregon's cigarette tax and fund health care for children. The tobacco companies will profit by selling more cigarettes, while Oregonians will pay a terrible price with more kids addicted to tobacco, more lives lost and more kids without health care.

Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds opposed this initiative because they know that increasing the cigarette tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among children, and they also know that the public strongly supports increasing the cigarette tax. These tobacco companies knew they couldn't win by arguing against the cigarette tax increase, so they spent a record $12 million to change the subject and deceive the voters of Oregon. In fact, the tobacco companies made this election about anything but the cigarette tax increase, which is the one issue they truly cared about.

Throughout the campaign, media reports regularly exposed the industry's deceptive tactics, including the creation of an industry-funded front group -- Oregonians Against the Blank Check; RJR's distribution of a mass-mailed letter that appeared to come from a first-grade teacher but was mailed from the office of the company's lobbyist; and false claims in TV ads. The tobacco companies' ads falsely claimed that the money raised would not be spent on children's health care and manufactured controversy about amending the Oregon Constitution despite the fact it has similarly been amended many times (and the tobacco companies themselves have proposed constitutional amendments in other states). The $12 million spent by Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds more than doubled the previous record for
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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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