July 16, 2016 3:03 pm -

That’s likely why he wrote things like “smoking doesn’t kill.”

Over his political career Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) has consistently carried the tobacco industry’s water, denying the dangers of cigarettes, opposing government regulation, and slashing smoking cessation efforts. In return, they rewarded him with more than $100,000 in campaign donations.

In 2000, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), then running for an open U.S. House seat, came out against a proposed settlement between government and the tobacco industry, calling it “big government.” In a shocking editorial, he wrote: “Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.” Pence acknowledged that smoking is not “good for you,” but claimed that two-thirds of smokers do not die from smoking related illness and “9 out of ten smokers do not contract lung cancer.” He warned of a slippery-slope in which government would soon seek to discourage fatty foods, caffeine, and SUVs…


Over his time in Congress, he would receive at least $39,000 from R.J. Reynolds and more than $60,000 from the National Association of Convenience Stores, which heavily relies on tobacco sales.

Indeed, Pence’s now-defunct family business, Kiel Bros. Oil, operated a chain of more than 200 cigarette and gasoline convenience stores. Pence’s financial disclosures from 2000 to 2003 noted six-figure holdings and at least $15,000 in annual income from the company. The stores, which operated under the name “Tobacco Road,” closed in 2004 in the face of higher cigarette taxes and more online tobacco sales.

In 2009, Pence was one of just 97 people in the U.S. House of Representatives to vote against the bipartisan Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate cigarettes and blasted a 2009 bill to expand healthcare for kids as “a tax increase on smokers to pay for a new middle-class entitlement.”

Three years later, Pence ran for governor, again with significant tobacco industry support. Altria/Phillip Morris, Lorillard, and R.J. Reynolds/Reynolds American have combined to contribute at least $63,500 to his 2012 and 2016 campaigns, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.




D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.