WASHINGTON – Each day that Congress meets, the nation’s four largest cigarette manufacturers spend more than $100,000 pushing their agenda on Capitol Hill

Philip Morris Cos., which operates the nation’s largest cigarette factory, and three other tobacco companies poured $44.2 million into lobbying Congress in two-and-a-half years ending June 30, according to reports filed by corporations and lobbying firms with the U.S. House and Senate.

The lobbying by Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. comes three years after the landmark $206 billion settlement between the cigarette-makers and the states shut down the Tobacco Institute, the industry’s powerful Washington lobbying arm.

Despite the institute’s demise, lobbying continues. Big Tobacco’s spending, an average of $106,415 each legislative day, illustrates how an industry digs deep by dispatching legions of lobbyists to influence Congress.

Consider Philip Morris’ lobbying on the Breast Cancer Prescription Drug Fairness Act. Or the Medicare Modernization and Solvency Act of 2001. The tobacco giant isn’t against treating breast cancer or updating federal insurance for senior adults, but it is against paying for the programs with cigarette taxes.

‘We typically monitor a lot of bills,’ said David Tovar, a Philip Morris spokesman. ‘Historically, we anticipate that [Congress] will look for funding for some of these programs from tobacco taxes.’

The tobacco industry did unite and apparently won a battle when it persuaded Congress to reduce the amount spent on a Clinton-era lawsuit alleging that cigarette-makers conspired for decades to keep the risks of smoking from the public.

Charlie Rose no longer represents North Carolina in the House, but he made $240,000 during the last congressional session to schmooze former colleagues on Philip Morris’ behalf. More than 100 former members of Congress are registered lobbyists, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Hundreds more former congressional staff workers now lobby.

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