WASHINGTON - Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4628, the Interest Rate Reduction Act, by a vote of 215 to 196. NACS called on members of Congress to support the bill, which includes a provision that would repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) established by the health-care law (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).
NACS learned last year that the government has been blatantly using taxpayer dollars to fund campaigns against certain products sold inside convenience stores. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been awarding grants to states and localities with the express purpose of influencing state and local legislation to promote increased taxation and regulation of tobacco products and products determined to contribute to obesity.
"Convenience stores sell legal products in a legal fashion. Unfortunately, the PPHF is being used to fund state and local campaigns advocating against many of the products we sell. This is disconcerting, particularly in light of the fact that it violates federal law prohibiting appropriated money from being used to lobby federal, state or local government officials. Regardless of its purpose, the Department of Health and Human Services should not utilize extra-legal methods to achieve its objectives," wrote NACS.
Documentation supplied by grant recipients shows taxpayers have been funding unlawful lobbying efforts, such as the promotion of tax increases and prohibitions on product sales.
For example, King County, Washington, received a $15.5 million CDC Grant to lobby for:
- "...Nutrition standards in government activities and in government funded community settings (especially child-care)...Economic policies to change price of unhealthy food relative to healthy food (especially soda tax)...
- "... Changing relative prices of healthy vs. unhealthy items by exploring the feasibility of enacting city privilege tax of fee on sugar sweetened beverages..."
- The inclusion of language to end abuse of taxpayer-funded grants is a critical part of the appropriations package, and I urge lawmakers to support these efforts to restrict unlawful and wasteful spending in the final 2012 appropriations legislation.