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Analysis: Big Tobacco Smashes State Ballot Measure Fundraising Records

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October 11, 2007

Portland, OR – Big tobacco is spending big bucks to stop Oregon's Measure 50, and setting a record in the process. A new analysis from Democracy Reform Oregon shows two tobacco companies have poured more than $9 million into campaigns to defeat the children's health care initiative, funding for which would come from a hike in the cigarette tax. According to report author Sarah Wetherson, the amount raised to defeat Measure 50 has surpassed previous records by nearly $2 million.

"It's an unprecedented amount of money and it is really hard to say how this is going to ultimately affect the election."

Supporters say Measure 50 is the best way to provide health care for uninsured kids; opponents argue that it's wrong to put a tax increase in the state constitution, and that it's unfair to tax only those who smoke. Wetherson says people on both sides of ballot measures need to be able to get their messages out to voters, but voters should know where the money is coming from.

"More disclosure is better. It's great that we have this new online reporting system, so voters can get financing information in a more timely way, before making a decision."

The complete report can be found on the group's Web site at

Dondrea Warner/John Robinson, Public News Service - OR