Taxpayers pay for study calling tea party an agent of Big Tobacco

Stanton Glantz, PhD
Stanton Glantz, PhD – Photo Credit UCSF

As reported last week, a study was conducted in California that claimed the tea party movement was little more than organized opposition to smoking restrictions and tobacco taxes.

The University of California’s San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education said, “rather than being a purely grassroots movement that arose spontaneously in 2009,” the tea party evolved “in part as a result of tobacco industry efforts to oppose smoking restrictions and tobacco taxes beginning in the 1980s.”

The study points to Citizens for a Sound Economy, a nonprofit that was funded in part by cigarette companies, and how it eventually “split into the tea party organizations Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works.”

“If you’re going to have a conspiracy theory, at least try to make it pass the laugh test … and this one doesn’t even do that,” AFP President Tim Phillips told

Nonetheless, the far left was quick to point to the report as “proof” that the claims first made by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi that the tea party was little more than “astroturf” were in fact true.

And, just as we predicted, the study was paid for by taxpayers.

The Washington Free Beacon reported that the study “was funded by [two] National Cancer Institute grants.” The institute is a division of the National Institutes of Health, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The report notes that in addition to rejecting the study’s findings, critics have “expressed concern that taxpayer funds were used to support politically motivated attacks.”

“Tea party sympathizer or not, liberal or conservative, every taxpayer should be outraged that their money is used to editorialize on the politics of the day,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, said in a statement to the Free Beacon.

“Instead of spending money to research cancer—as the National Cancer Institute is supposed to do—they are engaged in politically-motivated attacks on Americans engaged in the political process,” Huelskamp added.

The study’s primary author defended its federal backing, saying his efforts were within the National Cancer Institute’s mission.

“If you want to control cancer, you have to control smoking — and if you want to control smoking, you have to understand how the tobacco companies operate,” researcher Stanton Glantz told Fox News.

In a statement, the National Cancer Institute said it “played no role in the selection of the research topic, conduct of the research or preparation of the manuscript.”



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