October 2004

Grant Results

SUMMARY

The Common Cause Education Fund produced and disseminated 12 state reports that document the tobacco industry's campaign contributions and lobbying efforts and the success or failure of tobacco-control efforts at the state level from February 2002 through July 2003.

Key Results

  • The Common Cause Education Fund published 12 state reports that document the tobacco industry's campaign contributions and lobbying efforts and the success or failure of tobacco-control efforts at the state level.
  • Project staff, state chapter leaders and tobacco-control advocates disseminated the reports to the media, state legislators, health and tobacco groups, the public and others.
  • Local and national media, including at least 33 newspapers and 21 television and radio stations, covered the project extensively.
  • Common Cause established partnerships with tobacco-control advocates in the 12 states.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided $309,093 for this project. The National Institute on State Money in Politics contributed data for the reports.

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
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THE PROBLEM

By 2001, the tobacco industry had begun shifting its attempts to influence tobacco policy from the federal level to the states. The public and policy-makers needed to understand the extent to which tobacco interests were attempting to influence tobacco-control policy at the state level.

Common Cause is a national nonpartisan citizen lobbying organization with chapters in each state. Its goal is to ensure open, honest, accountable and effective government at the federal, state and local levels. The Common Cause Education Fund, Common Cause's nonprofit arm, works to achieve the same goal through research, public education and programs.

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RWJF STRATEGY

RWJF has supported tobacco policy research and projects to reduce tobacco use for many years. In addition to this grant, RWJF has funded two National Programs related to tobacco policy research: Tobacco Policy Research and Evaluation Program (see the Grant Results), which supported policy research aimed at helping public and private policy-makers adopt policies to reduce tobacco use, and the subsequent Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (see the Grant Results), which funds projects that identify and assess policies to reduce the harm caused by substance abuse and includes 62 tobacco projects; see also www.saprp.org.

RWJF has funded two other tobacco-related National Programs: Smokeless States, which supports development and implementation of comprehensive statewide strategies to reduce tobacco use through education, treatment and policy initiatives; and Policy Advocacy on Tobacco and Health, an initiative to increase the voice and capacity of communities of color in the tobacco-control movement (see Grant Results on the program).

This project meets RWJF's objective to increase the number and effectiveness of tobacco-control policies at the state and federal levels.

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THE PROJECT

The Common Cause Education Fund worked with state-based tobacco-control advocates and leaders of Common Cause's state chapters to document the tobacco industry's campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures in 12 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin), which were the states with the highest estimated tobacco industry spending and the highest likelihood that the legislature would be considering policies affecting tobacco use.

Common Cause acquired data from political action committee filings, official lobbying disclosure reports and officially reported honoraria and used it to aggregate the total level of tobacco industry expenditures in each of those categories, identify prime givers and beneficiaries and examine the possible impact of those expenditures on legislation and public policy within the selected states. The National Institute on State Money in Politics provided data for the reports free of charge.

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RESULTS

  • The Common Cause Education Fund published 12 state reports that document the tobacco industry's campaign contributions and lobbying efforts and the success or failure of tobacco-control efforts at the state level. The reports, entitled Campaign Contributions and Lobbying of the Tobacco Industry and Its Allies, covered the cost of tobacco use, the influence of tobacco interests, and tracked tobacco-related legislation. They include a list of campaign contributions from tobacco companies and their subsidiaries and allies to elected officials and political parties.
  • Project staff, state chapter leaders and tobacco-control advocates disseminated the reports to the media, state legislators, health and tobacco groups, the public and others. Staff and state chapter leaders distributed the reports to political reporters, editorial writers, talk radio hosts and television reporters, and held press conferences in five states. Local tobacco-control advocates promoted the reports in their states and distributed them to their constituents. The reports are also available online.
  • Local and national media, including at least 33 newspapers and 21 television and radio stations, covered the project extensively. The New York Times, the Washington Post and other national and local newspapers, eight television stations and 13 radio stations covered the state reports in news stories and editorials and on talk shows.
  • Common Cause established partnerships with tobacco-control advocates in the 12 states. While working together on this project, Common Cause and tobacco-control advocates established partnerships for sharing resources, experiences and information.

Communications

The reports are available online. In each of the 12 states, project staff produced and disseminated the state report on paper or electronically to political reporters, editorial writers, talk radio hosts and television stations throughout the state. Common Cause held a press conference to promote the study featuring representatives of Common Cause and state tobacco-control leaders. It sent an e-mail alert to more than 84,000 members of CauseNET, its activist listserv, directing people to the Web site. In the 12 states, Common Cause state leaders and their tobacco-control partners sent notices about the reports to their constituency listservs, and they also distributed the reports to members of the political coalitions to which they belong, such as public health, labor, faith-based and environmental coalitions. In Georgia, Florida, Maryland and Massachusetts, summaries of the reports are included in Common Cause state newsletters.

Local and national media covered the project extensively. News stories or editorials on the reports appeared in 33 newspapers. In addition to many local papers, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Denver Post, the Sacramento Bee, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Santa Fe New Mexican covered the reports. Eight television stations covered the studies on local news programs. An NPR affiliate in Albuquerque aired a 30-second radio announcement on the New Mexico report 25 times, directing listeners to the Web site. A similar NPR spot ran on several Connecticut radio stations.

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LESSONS LEARNED

  1. Clarify expectations early in the project to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Project staff did not outline what role partners would play in the process early on. As a result, partners did not understand the project staff's expectation, resulting in delayed release of reports and reduced partner participation in press events. Providing a checklist outlining expectations would have increased the project's efficiency and effectiveness. (Project Director)
  2. Combine national and local resources to achieve local results. Common Cause provided expertise and technical assistance, while local partners provided political connections and local experience. (Project Director)

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AFTER THE GRANT

The Common Cause Education Fund plans to produce and disseminate a similar series of state reports on alcohol use.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Conducting Research on State-Level Lobbying Expenditures and Campaign Contributions by the Tobacco Industry

Grantee

Common Cause Education Fund (Washington,  DC)

  • Amount: $ 309,093
    Dates: February 2002 to July 2003
    ID#:  043916

Contact

Ryan Alexander
(202) 833-1200
ralexander@commoncause.org

Web Site

http://tobaccofreeaction.org/contributions

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Articles

"Tobacco Industry Generous to Colo. Politicians." Join Together News. April 1, 2003. Also appears online.

Reports

California: The Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures of the Tobacco Industry and Its Allies. Washington: Common Cause Education Fund, 2002.

Colorado: The Campaign Contributions And Lobbying Expenditures of the Tobacco Industry and Its Allies. Washington: Common Cause Education Fund, 2003. Also appears online.

Connecticut: The Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures of the Tobacco Industry and Its Allies. Washington: Common Cause Education Fund, 2003. Also appears online.

Delaware: The Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures of the Tobacco Industry and Its Allies. Washington: Common Cause Education Fund, 2003. Also appears online.

Florida: The Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures of the Tobacco Industry and Its Allies. Washington: Common Cause Education Fund, 2003. Also appears online.

Georgia: The Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures of the Tobacco Industry and Its Allies. Washington: Common Cause Education Fund, 2003. Also appears online.

Maryland: The Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures of the Tobacco Industry and Its Allies. Washington: Common Cause Education Fund, 2003. Also appears online.

Massachusetts: The Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures of the Tobacco Industry and Its Allies. Washington: Common Cause Education Fund, 2003. Also appears online.

New Mexico: The Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures of the Tobacco Industry and Its Allies. Washington: Common Cause Education Fund, 2003. Also appears online.

North Carolina: The Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures of the Tobacco Industry and Its Allies. Washington: Common Cause Education Fund, 2003. Also appears online.

Vermont: The Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures of the Tobacco Industry and Its Allies. Washington: Common Cause Education Fund, 2003. Also appears online.

Wisconsin: The Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures of the Tobacco Industry and Its Allies. Washington: Common Cause Education Fund, 2002. Also appears online.

World Wide Web Sites

http://tobaccofreeaction.org/contributions. Web site includes state reports on "The Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures of the Tobacco Industry and Its Allies." Washington: Common Cause Education Fund.

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Report prepared by: Elizabeth Heid Thompson
Reviewed by: Lori De Milto
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Michelle A. Larkin

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