A group of eight Democratic senators want the Chamber of Commerce to rethink its stance on smoking.
The influential business lobby has taken heat lately for its efforts to fight global anti-smoking measures. A recent letter to the Chamber from the senators comes a few days after CVS Health pulled out of the business group because of its stance on smoking programs.
"Countries seeking to preserve the health and safety of their citizens and reduce tobacco-related deaths should not be stymied or intimated by an outside lobbying force — especially one that represents American businesses," according to the letter led by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
A recent New York Times report found that the Chamber was working globally to fight anti-smoking measures. The report said that the chamber lobbied foreign governments to help advance the interests of the tobacco industry and that it paid for legal efforts to overturn anti-smoking laws.
The Chamber responded to the story that it only wants to uphold intellectual property rights, adhere to international commitments and promulgate sensible and effective rules.
However, that response "provides scant comfort to the governors or populations that have been negatively impacted by the Chamber's pro-tobacco advocacy," according to the letter, also signed by Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Sherrod Brown of Connecticut, Al Franken of Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Jeffrey Merkley of Oregon.
The Chamber responded that it doesn't support smoking and wants people to quit. However, the body's "principled defense of the rights of companies and the free enterprise system is why our member support continues to grow," a Chamber spokesperson told the Examiner.