Tobacco lobbyists have a foothold in Donald Trump's Washington swamp

The president may not be a smoker, but he has led an astonishingly tobacco-friendly presidency

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 13, 2017 12:57PM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

President Donald Trump may have been elected on the promise that he would "drain the swamp," but apparently he doesn't mind of tobacco leaves are imported amongst the metaphorical vegetation.

The Trump administration is full of high-ranking tobacco industry figures and tobacco lobbying has reached a fever pitch, according to a report by The Guardian. Trump has even received donations from the tobacco industry since taking office, with Reynolds American (which owns the Camel brand) and Altria Group (which is behind Marlboro) donating $1.5 million to Trump's inauguration. Altria has also hired 17 lobbying firms and Reynolds has hired 13 lobbying firms, while tobacco companies and their related trade associations have spent $4.7 million overall on federal lobbying in the first quarter of 2017.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., has drawn attention to this problem, saying that "as in so many areas, the promise to drain the swamp has been an extraordinary hypocrisy. Many of his appointees have deep commitments to the tobacco industry."

Blumenthal added, "Tobacco industry influence in Washington is pervasive, in many different ways. They have an active presence on the Hill, they meet frequently with administrative agencies, on hugely significant issues such as regulation of e-cigarettes, tobacco packaging and warnings."

In related news, a new report by Reuters discussed emails revealing how tobacco company Philip Morris managed to dilute anti-smoking measures during the biennial meeting of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The emails also revealed that Philip Morris attempted to create a "global project team" for "achieving scrutiny" of institutions and individuals trying to regulate tobacco products.

Tony Snyder, vice president of communications for Philip Morris International, told Reuters that "speaking with governments is part of our everyday business."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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