SWAMP THANG: Why Is Big Tobacco Lobbyist On The Board Of The Congressional Black Caucus PAC?

SWAMP THANG: Why Is Big Tobacco Lobbyist On The Board Of The Congressional Black Caucus PAC?

Black Caucus
Photo by Tnarg from Pexels

Chaka Burgess, a co-managing partner of Empire Consulting Group (ECG), has been hired by Juul Labs to handle legislative and Food and Drug Administration regulatory efforts regarding e-cigarettes and vaping products.

Juul Labs, which has more than 70 percent of the US e-cigarette market, “has been the main target over the public backlash against teenage vaping, announced plans to suspend selling flavored e-cigarette pods in retail outlets and end social media promotions,” O’Dwyer’s reported.

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Burgess, who has more than 20 years of experience in public affairs, coalition building, lobbying, has provided strategic advice to such Fortune 500 companies and trade associations on public policy, and political and regulatory developments on Capitol Hill and the Administration.

Problem is Burgess is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee (PAC).

Prior to joining ECG, Burgess was Vice President of Government Relations at the American Gaming Association (AGA) where he was responsible for leading policy-focused public affairs programs to achieve AGA’s business and public policy objectives and oversight of AGA’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.

Burgess also worked in the Federal Government Affairs division at Eli Lilly and Company where he represented Lilly’s interests on a variety of healthcare issues.

Juul Vaping also recently hired Ben Jealous, former president and CEO of the NAACP, to lobby DC on its behalf.

Juul Vaping has been courting the Black community as of late and Black activists earlier this year slammed HBCU Meharry Medical School’s decision to take a $7.5 million grant from Juul.

“Juul doesn’t have African Americans’ best interests in mind,” LaTroya Hester, of the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network, told the New York Times. “The truth is that Juul is a tobacco product, not much unlike its demon predecessors.”

Meharry said it “planned to use the grant, the second-largest in its 143-year history, to start a center to research health outcomes in the Black community, including the health impact of tobacco products like Juul’s,” News Channel 5 Nashville reports.

But the Black medical community and anti-tobacco activists say the school should turn down the grant due to the deadly effect tobacco use has on African Americans, who “have a higher death rate from tobacco-related illnesses than other racial and ethnic groups.”