Pro-tobacco groups spent a record $1.25 million dollars lobbying in the first half of 2009, according to David Ahrens, UW Carbone Cancer Center researcher. Ahrens says this was the first time the “million dollar threshold” has been crossed. The money was used to fight the statewide public smoking ban and cigarette tax proposals, both of which became law, but he says pro-tobacco groups did score a victory.
“At the end of the session, the funding for the tobacco control programs was slashed by 55 percent,” says Ahrens.
These control programs help maintain the state’s free tobacco quit line, as well as tobacco prevention for youth and adults.
Drawing from Government Accountability Board records, Ahrens says pro-tobacco lobbyists outspent the total of opposing groups like Smoke Free Wisconsin and the American Cancer Society by 7-to-1.