RESOLVED: Shareholders request that Altria annually analyze and report on the congruence of its political and lobbying expenditures during the preceding year against its publicly stated company values and policies, listing and explaining instances of incongruent expenditures, and stating whether the identified incongruencies have or will lead to a change in future expenditures or contributions.
WHEREAS: A New York Times article, “Big Tobacco Heralds a Healthier World While Fighting Its Arrival”,  reported: “Major cigarette companies, like Altria and R.J. Reynolds, acknowledge that cigarettes are dangerous and addictive, and they are heralding their investments in electronic cigarettes and other less-harmful alternatives to cigarettes. But, with much less fanfare, they are taking steps to slow the very smokeless future they claim to want: The companies have submitted letters protesting the proposed menthol ban in traditional cigarettes, and they have signaled they will similarly resist any efforts to lower nicotine levels.”
Altria has set science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets, yet is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), both of which have lobbied to roll back specific US climate regulations and promote regulatory frameworks that would slow the transition towards a lower-carbon economy. This raises questions about whether Altria is also supporting efforts that conflict with its environmental commitments.
In addition, while Altria has articulated its support for the right to vote, the Company was one of the recipients of a letter sent by the League of Women Voters and over 300 organizations to corporations to stop funding ALEC because of its voter restriction efforts.
Altria does not disclose its payments to trade associations (TAs) and social welfare groups (SWGs). Companies can give unlimited amounts to TAs and SWGs that spend millions on lobbying and undisclosed grassroots activity. The federal Lobbying Disclosure Act does not require reporting of grassroots lobbying, and disclosure is uneven or absent in states. Investors have repeatedly sought greater transparency because a company’s political activity can contradict its stated goals, posing reputation risk.
The Center for Political Accountability’s (CPA) report, “Practical Stake: Corporations, Political Spending and Democracy” provides “a framework for companies to evaluate their political spending and align it with core company values and core democracy values, mitigating risks to their self-interests and democracy.” One of the report’s findings is that “political spending by companies totaling millions of dollars too often conflicts with their public commitments. Companies contributed heavily to a partisan political group tied to robocalls one day before Jan. 6, 2021. That same group helped elect state attorneys general who went to court to get the 2020 election results from key states thrown out. At the state level, companies gave millions of dollars to groups supporting the election of officeholders who worked for new laws to restrict or suppress voting.”  Altria’s expenditures are cited numerous times in the report.