The Tobacco Election

How our republic can kick the habit.

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Tobacco politics could become the hottest issue in this year’s election. After a 100-year history of disinformation, perjury, and fraud, America’s most lethal industry is on the verge of being brought under the law. But the tobacco industry has bought the sheriff. Or more precisely, it has secured Congress and is sponsoring the presidential campaign of a longtime ally.

The morality of the issue is clear: Tobacco kills about 420,000 Americans a year. In order to replace these customers, and the 1.3 million who quit each year, tobacco has to find new consumers: kids. Seventy percent of smokers are hooked by the time they are 18, the age when they can legally buy cigarettes.

Throughout our package of articles, you’ll keep coming upon stark facts about smoking. Although cumulatively they may desensitize you, we’ve taken that risk because, frankly, Americans are already numb. The tobacco industry has pacified the public as expertly as it has manipulated the nicotine kick in cigarettes.

Consider the Marlboro Man, Joe Camel, and Virginia Slims. The healthy, active freedom they promise hides an insidious, debilitating addiction. Using the same “big lie” technique, tobacco companies are sponsoring the Republican “get-the-government-off-our-backs” revolution that promises to return power to our communities and states. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Big Tobacco is strong-arming GOP governors and legislators to override local anti-smoking laws, tobacco excise taxes, and lawsuits brought by state attorneys general.

The tobacco companies want more–not less–centralized power. Faced with revolts throughout the country and defections from their own ranks, they’re banking on corrupt politicians to bail them out.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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