Conventional wisdom holds that the Tea Party movement emerged as a result of grassroots anger against the government in 2009. We have known for some time that the real story is more complicated.
A lot of big money, including the infamous Koch Industries and other corporate sources, helped fund and direct the movement. But that’s not all. A new peer-reviewed study published in the journal Tobacco Control, and funded by the National Cancer Institute, found that the story of the origin of the tea party includes another extremely disturbing protagonist: Big Tobacco.
In 1980, the study found, the tobacco industry launched a campaign PR is centered around the idea that taxes on cigarettes, studying public health, and other anti-smoking initiatives violated “the rights of smokers.” All that limit industry profits will alter as an attack on smoker’s intrusive government. Sound familiar?
In 1993, an ad executive working Phillip Morris suggested that the coalition against the regressive form of taxation new campaign, which, 20 years later, very similar to what we know today, “based on the theme” The New American Revolution tax “or” New Boston Tea Party “, the campaign should take the form of people from a wide constituency base mobilized with signs and drawing the attention of other equipment such as lapel buttons, handouts, petitions and even suits.”
Study of Tobacco Control in 1995, leads the memorandum other tobacco strategy, calling for the industry, “the defender behind the scenes, a third-party effort” that will support his agenda. In 2002, the citizens of a healthy economy (CSE), which received funding from the tobacco industry since the late eighties, created a Web site for “The United States Tea Party” tobacco funded organization later split to become Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works - two groups remain closely linked to Tea Party, as we know now. According to the authors the study, both groups “continue to speak on behalf of the tobacco industry against the tax, anti-regulation agenda.”
Rachel Grana, author of the study, put it directly impacts the press release: “The symbolism of the Tea Party is nothing new for cigarette companies and their allies, who for many years have been cynically using the sacred symbol of American freedom in order to further their own interests” .
Of course, anyone who has been closely watching knew that much of the funding came from the Tea Party industries seeking to protect their own interests. But this level of long-term, direct effect is striking. And the tobacco industry is in a league of its own when it comes to the cynical manipulation of the electorate. Last ordered by a federal judge to apologize to the American people for year’s deliberate lies about health effects of smoking, Big Tobacco is not an ally one wants to claim.