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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Influence of the Tobacco Industry on Wisconsin Tobacco Control Policies


Based on an examination of primarily tobacco industry internal documents, news

sources and government data sources we conclude that the tobacco industry in Wisconsin has

played a dominant role in shaping public policy on tobacco through the use of its economic

and political power and strategic alliances with influential industries. Tobacco industry

policies have contributed to higher than average rates of smoking among young

people in the early nineties, higher rates of smoking among young adults than the national

average and higher than expected smoking rates among adults in Wisconsin given its socioeconomic


This report should increase understanding of the political and economic

dimensions of Wisconsin’s tobacco industry and how it influences public policy related to

tobacco use. This report describes the structure of the major tobacco companies, their

economic interests in Wisconsin and their activities to secure their public policy agenda in regard to tobacco. The report also describes the critical role played by the industry’s primary

allies, the tavern and restaurant association, the convenience store association, the grocer’s

association and their political agency, the now defunct Tobacco Institute. We also examine

the development and efforts of the Wisconsin tobacco control movement regulating the

environment and opposing the tobacco industry. Finally, the report examines in detail the

history of the tobacco industry’s lobbying effort and political contributions in Wisconsin.

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