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Tobacco Companies Spent Millions To Sway CA Voters

SACRAMENTO (KCBS) - The American Lung Association has released a report and found that campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures in California by tobacco interests have totaled nearly $100 million over the past decade.

Paul Knepprath with the American Lung Association said that among the findings was that Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco interests spent nearly $60 million five years ago to defeat Proposition 86.

KCBS' Anna Duckworth Reports:

"That was the ballot measure that would have increased the state tobacco tax to help pay for things like children's health care, tobacco prevention programs and to ensure that hospitals had everything they needed to help people when they come into the ER," said Knepprath. "Think how much further we would be had we passed that tobacco tax."

He said that the report found that the majority of the nearly $9.5 million spent by tobacco interests in California in the last election cycle went to state legislators.

Despite the spending, smoking rates in the state continue to drop and local governments keep passing policies to reduce tobacco's impact.

"We could be so much further in protecting public health if the tobacco companies were not spending this kind of money," Knepprath said.

The report is compiled every two years using state contribution and lobbying data to show voters how big a role the big tobacco companies play in state politics.

KCBS' calls to Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds were not returned.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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