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.

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THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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