“California tobacco bills spurred hardball political threats”

Sacramento Bee:

Tobacco industry lobbyists threatened to scuttle unrelated ballot initiatives if California lawmakers passed sweeping anti-smoking measures, health advocates said on Friday.

While lawmakers said bills now on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk to raise the tobacco-buying age to 21 and to regulate electronic cigarettes as tobacco products drew fierce industry opposition, they characterized the effort as a hard-to-trace background campaign. Assembly Speaker-elect Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, last week told reporters lawmakers had received “threats involving electoral efforts.”…

An email obtained by The Bee, dated the day before the Assembly floor vote and bearing the address of a lobbyist for Lang, Hansen, O’Malley, & Miller Governmental Relations, a firm whose clients include Altria, mirrors Corcoran’s description. It details a strategy to torpedo other ballot measures by cornering the market on paid signature-gatherers so that they are unavailable to work for other campaigns.

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