Under the Dome

The Tobacco Caucus

Which legislators have tobacco companies in their districts?

With the General Assembly again considering enacting a smoking ban in restaurants and workplaces, Dome decided to see who represents the tobacco firms.

Alternative Brands, Mocksville:
Rep. Julia Howard, Sen. Andrew Brock

Commonwealth Brands, Reidsville:
Rep. Nelson Cole, Sen. Phil Berger

Lorillard, Greensboro:
Rep. Maggie Jeffus, Sen. Don Vaughan

Philip Morris, Concord:
Rep. Jeff Barnhart, Sen. Fletcher Hartsell

Reynolds American, Winston-Salem:
Rep. Larry Womble, Sen. Linda Garrou

Reynolds American, Tobaccoville:
Rep. Dale Folwell, Sen. Pete Brunstetter

In the 2007 session, Reps. Howard, Jeffus, Barnhart and Womble voted for a smoking ban in public places, while Reps. Cole and Folwell voted against it.


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Re: The Tobacco Caucus

I haven't seen any numbers on this directly, but according to the NCDA's statistics, we exported $409,600,000 of raw tobacco in 2007. If that is included in the total cash receipts for tobacco (~$586,451,000), then it can be assumed that nearly 70% of tobacco profits come from exports out of the state.

I would still say that $186 million is a large amount of money for certain eastern counties,and there's possibly a generalized interest that the legislators that represent all tobacco counties might have in seeing no state adopt such regulations. The regulations are, let's admit it, ultimately aimed at reducing smoking by making it more inconvenient to be a smoker (as well as the short-term benefit of reducing second-hand smoke). That attenuated concern, however, is probably why ~45% of legislators from "Grower" districts voted for a smoking ban.

Re: The Tobacco Caucus


I would expect nothing less from you, using your holier than thou research to pull up such repugnant regimes to prove a point. Very clever, you might want to realize it’s 2K9, and that fear mongering is not working like it use to. A ten second research into places that ban smoking can easily counteract your rhetoric of “societies” and will show places that most folks wouldn’t mind being compared to. I think you are plenty smart, but it may be time to reinvent your self and find a new way to trounce on peoples emotions and fears.

No one is attempting a “puritanical ban” on smoking; folks will be able to still get their highs from smoking. I think when someone else’s puritanical enjoyment of smoking leaves their lungs and enters into airspace shared by children, elderly, and pregnant women is when concern arises.

On another note, I would like to know the percentage of leaf grown in NC that stays in NC. That is the real question. These companies are buying leaf grown oversees because it is not regulated and less controlled. Moreover, there high quality products are being sent overseas where there is a market for it.

Good day.

Re: The Tobacco Caucus

While I understand this post to a degree, you must understand that the "tobacco caucus" is actually much larger. Because Reynolds American has thousands of current employees and a lot more retirees (for the most part who are ardently loyal) that live in several counties surrounding Winston-Salem. I believe any legislator from Forsyth, Davie, Davidson (excluding Holliman), Stokes, Surry, and Yadkin could easily be included in the tobacco caucus.

Re: The Tobacco Caucus

While we're compiling useful information, I wouldn't mind a look into societies that have enacted the kind of puritanical bans on the enjoyment of tobacco that are under discussion here. In my own limited observations, I've counted Nazi Germany, the Soviet bloc, Cuba (here is a tobacco-producing police state), and al Qaeda when they can. In the U.S., of course, it's an idea that spans political parties; e.g., both Sen. Clinton and Gov. Huckabee support it.

Re: The Tobacco Caucus

Updated to include Tobaccoville. Thanks!

— RTB 

Re: The Tobacco Caucus

There is at least one huge Reynolds plant in Stokes County. Tobbaccoville anyone?

Re: The Tobacco Caucus

Here's a good link for cash receipts, by county, for tobacco (including burley, but as you can see from the counties listed, we're talking solely about flue-cured):

As far as tobacco growers' concern comes into play, I think it actually would have a significant effect in certain ares.

As far as I understand (and I am liable to be wrong), since 2004 or so, the contract system has developed such that in some areas (Wilson county I believe to be one of them), the actual number of tobacco farms and farmers have decreased, but tobacco acreage, output and cash receipts have expanded -- only in the hands of a smaller number of growers.

On the other hand, many areas have seen tobacco growers, acreage and receipts fall severely (Wake county being the most obvious example).

In the wake of this legislation, as well as corresponding legislation in other states, I feel that manufacturers would be forced to charge more for the product, pay less for the tobacco, or buy less tobacco. While the first option would be easiest for growers, I think its somewhat less likely, given tax trends on cigarettes.

It seems to me that the other two options would therefore disproportionately affect certain legislators' districts, and because of the concentrated nature of tobacco production, would have both an equal or greater percentage impact on the local economy relative to the revenue decrease (modified by overhead costs), as well has have a large, although much shallower secondary impact on the local service economy.

Now, I fully believe my economics could be backwards like a demolition derby, but it makes sense in my head. I guess this sort of thinking should be left for the economists, because I've left out the whole host of government funding for alternative crop programs, CRP benefits, etc, etc.

Re: The Tobacco Caucus

Hmmm... Any suggestions on where to find this information?

That said, I think it's not as big of a deal to tobacco growers as it is to cigarette manufacturers and retailers.

— RTB 

Re: The Tobacco Caucus

Although the soybean and corn are taking over, it might also be prudent to see what legislators have high amounts of direct-contract tobacco money going into their district. Certainly there are some legislators down east (not to flare up a nomenclature debate) who have quite a large stake in how much golden leaf Reynolds, PM, Lorillard, et al are able to purchase. This is not even touching on smaller, independent tobacco co-ops.

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