Big Tobacco Suffers Big Setbacks in DC

Despite massive lobbying, regulation looks likely to pass
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Apr 14, 2009 10:23 AM CDT
A man smokes a Marlboro cigarette in Mountain View, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008.    (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
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(Newser) – After years of winning its fights in Washington, Big Tobacco is steeling itself for a major defeat: Not only did Congress pass an excise tax hike of 62 cents a pack of cigarettes, which went into effect this week, but the House voted overwhelmingly to submit the industry to FDA regulation. That measure died in the Senate last year on the threat of a Bush veto, but President Obama co-sponsored the bill as a senator.

Tobacco's influence is waning, Politico reports, despite $30 million spent on lobbying last year alone, not only because of the Democratic majority in Washington but because of budgetary pressure and momentum behind curbing health care costs. “Tobacco use is a major factor driving the increasing costs of health care in the US," Obama's budget office notes. And while the industry was unanimously opposed to the tax hike, Phillip Morris' parent company Altria—by far the biggest player—has endorsed regulation, leaving “Little Tobacco” to fend for itself.