Seth Moulton Took $1,000 From Big Tobacco In 2017

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What do Seth Moulton (D-Salem) and Richard Neal (D-Springfield) have in common?

A lot, probably. They’re both Democratic congressmen from Massachusetts. They both won primaries against Democrats to their left last year. And they both take corporate political action committee money. 

That includes money from defense contractors, as NewBostonPost has previously noted. However, Moulton is also one of two members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation that has taken money from Big Tobacco in the past decade.

Moulton received a $1,000 campaign contribution from Altria Group Inc. Political Action Committee (ALTRIAPAC) on February 2, 2017, as Federal Election Commission campaign finance data reveals.

Altria Group is the parent company of Philip Morris USA. That company produces Marlboro cigarettes. It also also encompasses the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, which produces both Copenhagen and Skoal dip. As NewBostonPost previously noted, the same political action committee donated the maximum allotted $10,000 to help Neal get re-elected in 2020.  Neal, chairman of the chamber’s powerful Ways and Means Committee, was the top corporate PAC money recipient in the U.S. House of Representatives last year.

Tobacco kills 480,000 Americans per year, according to the federal Food and Drug Administration. It causes one of every three cardiovascular disease deaths in the country each year and one in three cancer deaths, according to the federal agency. The Food and Drug Administration also calls tobacco “the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.”

Another federal agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that the life expectancy for smokers is “at least 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers.”

Moulton, first elected to Congress in 2014, has generally not addressed tobacco issues during his tenure in office. However, Moulton and the other eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts voted in favor of a bill in March 2020 called Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act. A press release from the office of U.S. Representative Katherine Clark (D-Melrose) explains what was in the bill:


  • Require cigarette packages to include graphic health warnings about the dangers of smoking

  • Tax e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products at the same rate as cigarettes

  • Prevent non-face-to-face sales of certain tobacco products

  • Raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 and make it illegal for any retailer to sell tobacco products to those under 21

  • Block the manufacture and sale of all flavored tobacco products

  • Make critical public health investments to smoking prevention and cessation efforts across the country


The bill passed 213-195 with nearly every Democrat voting in favor of it and nearly every Republican opposing it.

One Democrat who opposed the bill, U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke (D-New York), explained that she thought it put black Americans in danger in an op-ed for The Hill.

“Considering the fact that 90 percent of black smokers use menthol products, menthol tobacco users would live in fear of new stop and frisk opportunities under this legislation, because menthol would now be considered an illegal flavor,” Clarke wrote. “A ban that targets menthol products but ignores other premium tobacco products unduly burdens the black community. This asymmetrical ban feels more like a targeted attack than a value-neutral health care policy decision. In effect, white adult smokers would see little difference in their lives after this ban while black smokers could face even more sweeping harassment from law enforcement if the hint of menthol smoke can justify a stop.”

While Moulton hasn’t been vocal on the issue of tobacco, the two U.S. senators from Massachusetts have been in recent years. Senator Ed Markey (D-Malden) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Cambridge) have pushed for the Food and Drug Administration to ban menthol cigarettes. They were exempt from the FDA’s 2009 ban of flavored cigarettes despite being the most popular flavored cigarette, as WebMD points out.

The Moulton campaign and Altria Group could not be reached for comment on Monday.


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