Montana

How Big Tobacco stopped a smoking tax in 'Marlboro Country'

HELENA, Mont. - The nation's two largest tobacco companies spent $147,000 during the first three months of the Montana legislative session to kill what would have been the state's first tobacco tax increase in 12 years.

That's more than they spent lobbying the Montana Legislature over the past decade.

Legislators and other lobbyists say R.J. Reynolds and the parent company of Phillip Morris hired additional lobbyists, launched an ad campaign and helped coach tobacco retailers to testify against the bill.

Bill sponsor and Democratic Sen. Mary Caferro of Helena says she's never witnessed such an intense lobbying effort to kill a bill.

The measure would have raised cigarette taxes $1.50 a pack and taxed vaping products for the first time.

It died in the House last month a week after passing the Senate.


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