The Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) program is a grant program administered by the CDC for education on tobacco use and obesity prevention.   All grant recipients are notified that it is illegal to use the funds for lobbying, but a CoA investigation has uncovered seven new instances where your federal tax dollars were used to push for higher taxes and new ordinances. Our investigation shows how the CDC failed to conduct proper oversight of the CPPW program. While the CDC was made aware of the Florence County, SC violation, CoA uncovered seven additional communities in risk of violating federal law and HHS guidelines.

Read more in our Press Release or see the full report here. 

Florence County, SC

$6 million for tobacco control

 Illegal Lobbying 

  • The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the Smoke Free Florence (SFF) coalition used the grant money to lobby in support of a smoke-free ordinance.
    • This email from a DHEC employee describes lobbying  two members of the county commission (Glynn and Buddy): 


  • CPPW staff at DHEC attempted to cover-up the lobbying by altering the meeting minutes.
    • “DHEC would like to go through the past meeting minutes to “massage” them and take out the details.”
    • “He said that it is not unethical because they are not looking to “twist” things that were written, just remove the details.”

Pima County, AZ

$15.8 million for obesity prevention 

  • The Pima County Health Department (PCHD) used taxpayer dollars to contract with the University of Arizona to lead policy workshops and develop neighborhood plans in support of zoning codes, regulations, and ordinances.

Out in the Open

  • The sub-contract for the University of Arizona College Of Architecture clearly states that the grantee will be “engaging public officials.”  

Jefferson County, AL

$13.3 million for tobacco control and obesity prevention

  • CPPW funds paid 80% of the salary for a “Director of Advocacy” with the following duties and responsibilities: 

Miami-Dade County, FL

$14.7 million for obesity prevention 

  • The Miami-Dade County Health Department (MDCHD) used taxpayer funds to hire the Health Council of South Florida to provide a legislative agenda for CPPW-funded policy work.

Mobile County, AL

$2.4 million for obesity prevention 

  • CPPW funds paid the salary of an “outreach coordinator” who worked with the TFMC to “educate decision makers about the benefit of 100% percent smoke-free policy, increasing the unit price of tobacco products, and reducing tobacco advertising. 

Los Angeles County, CA

$32.1 million for tobacco control and obesity prevention

  • LA Public Health used CPPW funds to  hire a “Legislated Policy Project Coordinator” who managed teams of policy liaisons, community organizers and community representatives

 Santa Clara County, CA

$6.9 million for tobacco control

  • The Santa Clara County Public Health Department (Santa Clara Health) used tax dollars to hire a tobacco retail license coordinator to lobby for a workplace smoking ordinance and also used CPPW funds to support a state-wide tobacco tax increase.

DeKalb County, GA

$3.2 million for tobacco control and obesity prevention

  • The DeKalb County Board of Health (DCBH) used CPPW funds to support the adoption of a strengthened county CIAO and partnered with the Georgia Alliance for Tobacco Prevention (GA Alliance) to train coalition partners and finance a media campaign in support of state cigarette tax increase.



  1. harleyrider1978 says

    You forgot St. Louis

    Monday, July 16, 2012
    Illegal use of CDC grant money in St. Louis County

    Dear Senator Collins,

    On May 1st 2012, you issued the following request to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:

    “Please document each instance from fiscal year 2007 to fiscal year 2011 where CDC awardees used federal funds to pay for lobbying activities. The activities to be reported include those which are listed in 18 U.S.C § 1913 and include: any advertisement, telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device (such as emails, websites, videos, audio, or other electronic communications), intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress, a jurisdiction, or an official of any government (including local and state governments), to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation. The information should be documented and provided in a word-searchable format that includes the name of the awardee, total amount of the award, date the award was granted, the stated purpose of the award, a list of all activities in the aforementioned list that the awardee carried out with federal funds, and an indication of whether or not the desired outcomes in state or local policy or legislative changes took place.”

    Senator Collins, I am writing to inform you of one clear instance where a CDC awardee “used federal funds to pay for lobbying activities.” In 2010, the St. Louis County Department of Health, along with St. Louis University and its 501c3 Tobacco Free St. Louis, used a substantial portion of a $7,593,110 2010 CDC grant to lobby the St. Louis County Council and other St. Louis municipalities in order to alter existing legislation and impose new ordinances. Indeed the grant award summary lists these legislative changes among the objectives of the grant:

    “Strengthen the clean indoor air bill recently passed by the citizens of St. Louis County. Increase the number of comprehensive ordinances in municipalitites and educational settings. Enact a minimum pricing retailer law.”
    Please find attached a contract in which St. Louis University agrees to lobby for these legislative changes through its group Tobacco Free St. Louis in exchange for $545,000 of federal grant money from the St. Louis County Department of Health.

    Furthermore, a substantial portion of a multi-million dollar ad campaign paid for by the CDC grant was used to pressure the St. Louis County Council to remove voter-approved exemptions from the current St. Louis County Clean Air Ordinance. One such ad, paid for by the CDC grant has been widely aired on many local radio stations and directly implores the St. Louis County Council to remove all exemptions. This ad is also featured on the Tobacco Free St. Louis website under the heading Unfinished Business along with contact information of St. Louis County Councilmen.

    Please review the compilation of quotes from local news stories at the end of this letter which documents the two year long use of federal money to lobby for the alteration of an existing County ordinance and the imposition of two new municipal clean air ordinances. The St. Louis County Council refused to yield to this illegal pressure, but the grant goal of two new muncipal clean air ordinances was achieved in the St. Louis County municipalities of Brentwood and Creve Coeur.

    Senator Collins, this illegal campaign has been a great anxiety and strain on local businesses currently exempted under the existing voter-approved County ordinance. I ask that you ensure that any unspent grant money received by the St. Louis County Department of Health in 2010 from the CDC not be used for any further lobbying, but rather be spent legitimately to educate the public concerning the dangers of tobacco.


    Bill Hannegan
    Director of Keep St. Louis Free

    St. Louis County, flush with a $7.6 million federal stimulus grant, is launching a major assault on smoking.

    The project sets a goal of persuading the County Council by January 2012 to extend its smoking ban to all workplaces, restaurants and bars.

    In addition, the project sets a goal of persuading at least two additional municipalities to adopt smoking bans more restrictive than the county’s. Ballwin, Clayton and Kirkwood currently have such measures.”

    Read more:

    Fraser said frustration drove her last month to call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the agency that last year gave St. Louis County a $7.6 million federal stimulus grant to help end smoking. She spoke with Ron Todd, the CDC’s grant liaison to the county.”One of the county’s stated goals in accepting the grant from the CDC was to eliminate the exemptions by 2012,” Fraser said.

    Persuading the County Council to end the exemptions is also one of the stated goals of Tobacco Free St. Louis, which is located on the campus of St. Louis University. When the county distributed money from the grant, it gave $545,000 to the university, which was to direct the money toward Fraser’s group.
    Read more:

    St. Louis County’s health director, Dr. Dolores Gunn, said Thursday that an anti-smoking organization had broken no tax law in its use of federal grant money.

    The organization, Tobacco Free St. Louis, is using $545,148 from a federal stimulus grant for anti-smoking efforts.
    Bill Hannegan, an opponent of smoking bans here, had complained that Tobacco Free was lobbying the County Council on the smoking issue. Federal tax law allows limited lobbying by nonprofits like Tobacco Free to influence legislation.
    Read more:

    Pat Lindsey, executive director of Tobacco-Free St. Louis, said the group intended to go to the County Council soon to ask it to remove the exemptions.

    Bill Hannegan, who has fought smoking bans and heads Keep St. Louis Free, said he was not surprised by Tobacco-Free’s effort because its “Obama stimulus money runs out” soon.
    Tobacco-Free, based at St. Louis University, is the recipient of about $545,000 of a $7.6 million federal stimulus grant that St. Louis County received and distributed. The grant is expected to run out in June, a Tobacco-Free spokesman said Thursday.
    Read more:

    Pepper also noted Tobacco-Free St. Louis has a contract with St. Louis County that should affect the group’s tax-exempt status. Among the items in the document’s scope of work is that the group would try to persuade the St. Louis County Council to include all workplaces, restauarants and bars in the ban and try to persuade at least two municipalities in the county to adopt “strong, comprehensive smoke-free ordinances.” The county uses federal stimulus money to finance the contract.

    Read more:

    As Daily RFT first reported March 8, Tobacco-Free St. Louis recently received a county contract (paid for by federal stimulus dollars, natch!) worth $545,000. The group was charged with “developing and implementing an education and advocacy plan to educate St. Louis County Council members about the need to remove exemptions from St. Louis County’s current smoke-free ordinance.”

    That sounded an awful lot like lobbying to us.

    “The non-profit agency Tobacco Free St. Louis has a $545,000 contract with St. Louis County to — among other things — urge the county council to remove exemptions from the county smoking ban.

    As we reported last week, the contract is being paid with federal stimulus funds, raising questions about whether federal tax dollars are being used to pay for lobbying (which is strictly verboten). ”

    “But now Daily RFT has learned that the county is using some of the money to hire a non-profit organization to “educate” its own elected officials — the St. Louis County Council — and “advocate” that the council toughen up the county’s new smoking ban. Even though that effort is targeted at changing a county ordinance, the project manager at the department of health, Barry Freedman, insists that it is not a case of federal dollars being used for lobbying.”

    “As we reported last month, Tobacco Free St. Louis recently received a $545,000 contract with St. Louis County, paid for by federal stimulus funds, to (among other things) lobby for a tougher smoking ban in the county.”

  2. John Davidson says

    They forgot St Louis

    KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE!: Illegal use of CDC grant money in St. Louis County
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