MINNESOTA ASSIST SIIMNIARY -- LOBBYING ACTIVITIES
The American Stop Smoking Invention Study for cancer prevention
("ASSIST") is a federally funded, collaborative effort between the National Cancer
Institute and the American Cancer Society, along with state and local health departments
and other voluntary organizations, to develop and implement comprehensive tobacco
control programs in seventeen states, including Minnesota . Minnesota Project ASSIST
("MN ASSIST") apparently has engaged in a wide variety of direct and indirect antitobacco
lobbying activities at the federal, state and local levels, according to documents
obtained through Freedom-of-Information Act requests and other public materials .
I. MN ASSIST's Stated Objective Is To Support Anti-Smoking
MN ASSIST established several goals, including the formation of state
legislative agendas . MN ASSIST's legislative agenda for 1994 included :
1 . Statewide tobacco licensing law with progressive
2. Tobacco tar increase . . . .
3 . Amendments to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act[ .]
Attachment 1 at 1 (emphasis added) ; see also Attachments 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 .
II. MN ASSIST Lobbied Federal Officials
In late 1995, a local MN ASSIST coalition reported that it had "focused
its energies on an important short-term project (encouraging support of the FDA
proposal to regulate tobacco products) ." Attachment 12 at 1(emphasis added) . The
coalition prepared 14,000 postcards calling for support of FDA's planned rule . Id .
III. MN ASSIST Lobbied State Leeislators
In fiscal year 1994, MN ASSIST planned to work towards passage of a
strict, comprehensive "tobacco licensing bill ." Attachment 6 at 2 (emphasis added) .
In February 1994, MN ASSIST coalition members were provided with
"extensive training regarding tobacco licensing and the state legislature ." Attachment 7
at 3 . A lobbyist gave a presentation on "advocating for policy change at the state level ."
Id . Lobbying resources, such as guides to the legislature, also were made available .
Attachment 7 at 3 ; see also Attachments 8, 9 .
In April 1994, MN ASSIST reported that :
Attachment 7 at 15 (emphasis added) .
This legislative session was the first opportunity for ASSIST local
coalitions and their members to become involved with the
statewide policy agenda . . . . As of this report, it remains to be
seen what progress has been made on tobacco tax and statewide
tobacco licensing . . . . This session was a good trial run, but
much work remains . ASSIST will need to continue to expand its
network if we are to move our state legislature forward .
IV. MN ASSIST Lobbied Local Ofticials With The
Assistance Of The Advocacy Institute
In fiscal year 1994, MN ASSIST, working through its local coalitions,
planned to encourage communities "to adopt strict vending machine ordinances ."
Attachment 6 at 4 .
On January 21, 1994, MN ASSIST reported that its local coalitions had
engaged in numerous lobbying activities, including :
See also Attachments 5, 7, 8, 9 .
• [C]ontact[ing] . . . municipalities . . . to determine the
extent of their tobacco licensing restrictions . . .[and]
developing a plan of action, including selection of
communities to target for policy change . (Attachment 1 at
2 (emphasis added)) .
• [S]upport[ing] a local effort to institute tobacco licensing in
the city of Burnsville ." (Id . (emphasis added)) .
• [I]n collaboration with . . . the Advocacy Institute . . . ,
coordinat[ing[ an effort to support the mayor of Brooklyn
Center in an attempt to ban all point-of-purchase tobacco
advertising in the city . (Id . at 3 (emphasis added)) .
V. MN ASSIST Awarded Subcontracts To Lobbvine Organizations
MN ASSIST awarded a subcontract in the amount of $19,686 to the
Minnesota Coalition for a Smoke-Free Society 2000 for training youth in public policy
advocacy, media advocacy and community organizing . The subcontract raised concerns
about the use of federal funds for lobbying, a fact which MN ASSIST acknowledged .
Attachment 10 ; see also Attachments 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15 .
(excerpts only, unless otherwise noted)
1 MN ASSIST Quarterly Report for 1st Quarter, Phase
II, Year 3 (Oct . 1, 1993 - Dec . 31, 1993)
2 MN ASSIST Project Management Plan (Sept . 15,
3 MN ASSIST Quarterly Report for 3rd Quarter,
Phase I, Year 2 (Apr . 1, 1993 - June 30, 1993)
4 MN ASSIST Quarterly Report for 2nd Quarter,
Phase I, Year 2 (Jan . 1, 1993 - Mar . 31, 1993)
5 MN ASSIST Quarterly Report for 1st Quarter, Phase
II, Year 3 (July 1, 1994 - Sept . 30, 1994)
6 MN ASSIST 1993-94 Annual Action Plan
7 MN ASSIST Quarterly Report for 1st Quarter, Phase
II, Year 3 (Jan . 1, 1994 - Mar . 31, 1994)
8 MN ASSIST 1994-95 Annual Action Plan
9 MN ASSIST Quarterly Report for 1st Quarter, Phase
II, Year 3 (Apr . 1, 1994 - June 30, 1994)
10 Iztter from MN ASSIST to Minnesota Coalition for
a Smoke-Free Society 2000 (July 30, 1993)
I I Letter from Smoke-Free 2000 Coalition to State
Representatives (Feb . 8, 1995)
12 MN ASSIST Subcontractor Quarterly Reports for
July 1, 1995 - Sept . 30, 1995 ; Apr . 1, 1995 - June
30, 1995 ; and Jan . 1, 1995 - Mar . 31, 1995
13 Letter to Governor and State Auditor from The
Minnesota Grocers Association re : Unlawful Use of
Federal Taxpayer Dollars by Minnesota Department
of Health and Violations of State Lobbyist
Registration and Reporting Laws (Oct . 18, 1995)
14 "Ethics Board Clears Anti-Smoking Groups," Star
Tribune (Jan . 27, 1996)
15 Letter from Minnesota Department of Health to
Governor (Nov . 20, 1995)