A number of facts spurred President Clinton to make a major confrontation with the American tobacco industry. Being in need of funding for his health care plan, Clinton proposed a tax on cigarettes, a move that immediately set the president on a collision course with tobacco firms. Contact with health groups during the preparation of the plan also called Clinton’s attention to health risks in connection with smoking. The president was also encouraged by revelations that tobacco companies had lied about the dangers of smoking, that it had deliberately tried to hook children and manipulated the nicotine levels in cigarettes. The fact that Vice-president Al Gore urged Clinton to combat the tobacco industry also had an important bearing on Clinton’s decision to take on tobacco firms. The anti-tobacco commitment of Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler was also of immeasurable importance. Clinton’s endorsement of FDA’s classification of nicotine as a drug and of the FDA rules aimed at curbing youth smoking were Clinton’s most important steps against the tobacco industry during his first term. The fact that Kessler had advised Clinton to focus on youth smoking had provided Clinton with a political strategy in the tobacco issue. After having been assured by his pollster Dick Morris that it would cost him few votes, Clinton raised the tobacco issue in the 1996 presidential election. It was difficult for the Republican candidate Bob Dole, who was a recipient of large tobacco contributions, to sweep away the combat of youth smoking with anti-regulatory GOP rhetoric. Helped by Dole’s many clumsy remarks about smoking, Clinton managed to portray himself as a candidate who cared about young people’s health. The tobacco issue had become an important Democratic public value.Clinton’s attempt to pass sweeping tobacco legislation in Congress and his attempt to let the FDA regulate tobacco both failed. The President therefore tried to make steps against the industry by means of executive orders and by using the court system. Clinton’s intense focus on the tobacco industry stained its reputation. The President’s commitment in the tobacco issue was founded on idealism as well as on pragmatism. Polls had convinced Clinton that he was not committing political suicide when he raised the tobacco issue in the 1996 presidential election. There were strong winds of anti-tobacco fervor in the mid-1990s and considerable changes in the electorate. The GOP had replaced the Democratic Party as the dominant party in the South. Furthermore, in the 1990s the Southern Democratic vote tended to be found in areas with high- tech industries rather than in rural areas. A courageous Clinton understood that conditions most likely were the right for an anti-tobacco president. In my opinion, the 1996 presidential election revolutionized tobacco’s role in American politics. Before 1996, politicians who wished to take steps against the tobacco industry did not have the courage to do so for fear of losing votes. After 1996, tobacco connections and a pro-tobacco stance tended to hurt politically. Inspired by the success of the Contract with America, the Democrats developed a national platform which called for tobacco legislation before the 1998 election. Democratic diversity in the tobacco case had developed into unity.The enormous wealth of the tobacco companies permitted them to strike back at Clinton in a number of ways. The ties between the Republican Party and the tobacco companies were strengthened during the Clinton presidency. By giving heavy financial support to organizations and think thanks which exerted influence on the GOP, the tobacco industry managed to portray regulation of tobacco as a violation of Republican ideology. In this period, the GOP became more and more dependent on the votes from the religious right. However, these newcomers in the Republican Party with their pro-life stance did at best turn a blind eye on the tobacco issue. Tobacco-growing states often were strongholds of the religious right, and a number of conservative members of Congress who represented religious groups were staunch allies of the tobacco industry. Well aware of their tattered reputations the tobacco companies tried to fight tobacco regulations, making sure that the word tobacco was not even mentioned. The financial support of anti-tax groups which exerted influence in the GOP became very important in this respect. Contributions to the Republican Party and Republican members of Congress sky-rocketed in the mid-1990s. Studies showed that there was a high correlation between ample tobacco contributions to members of Congress and pro-tobacco votes cast in Congress. An army of tobacco lobbyists was also instrumental in persuading members of Congress to vote in favor of the tobacco industry. The fact that the enormous wealth of the tobacco industry contributed to its vast political clout can be seen as a purchase of influence and a weakening of democracy. The campaign finance reforms of the Feingold-McCain Act of 2002 can therefore be seen as a strengthening of democracy in the United States.The tobacco companies tried to sway public opinion by influencing and controlling the mass media. The industry launched expensive advertising campaigns designed to improve its fringed reputation. Heavy financial support to so-called neutral think thanks often resulted in media inserts which were favorable to the tobacco industry .Business synergy, tobacco-owned media-outlets, and the enormous advertising power of the tobacco industry also led to self-censure of media companies. Studies show that publications dependent on tobacco advertisement often failed to print articles which were unfavorable to the tobacco companies. I find it disquieting that the tobacco companies provoked self-censure in the mass media. It suggests that freedom of speech in democracies can be impaired when business corporations become too powerful. The establishment of the internet made it easier to get anti-tobacco articles, reports from whistleblowers etc. to the public. However, the tobacco companies had another weapon, the courts. Scientists and TVstations alike were threatened with legal prosecution, a practice that probably had a preventive effect. Since research had ascertained the detrimental effects of smoking, it was no longer possible for the tobacco companies to claim the opposite. It was therefore of vital importance for the tobacco industry to draw attention away from health risks in connection with tobacco use. Smoking was instead presented as a civil liberty issue. Helped by their support to so-called neutral organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, the tobacco companies portrayed regulation of tobacco as a violation of the freedom of American citizens. The curbing of advertisement aimed at minors was represented as a violation of freedom of speech. This strategy permeated both the political efforts and PR efforts of the tobacco companies. Haunted by accusations of illegal behavior, President Clinton initiated the appointment of a special counsel to look into the Whitewater affair. This move turned out to be a serious mistake inasmuch as it eventually led to the appointment of Kenneth Starr. The fact that moderate Republican Robert Fiske, who had been appointed independent counsel in early 1994, did not find anything illicit on the Clintons probably led to his ousting. There is every indication that the replacement of Robert Fiske with Kenneth Starr was politically motivated and that tobacco interests were involved. The fact that Kenneth Starr continued defending tobacco firms while investigating an anti-tobacco president was a serious conflict of interest. Starr’s investigation seemed to be a fishing trip for possible wrongdoing rather than an investigation of illicit behavior. After years of investigation Starr was not able to prove that the Clintons had done anything illegal in the Whitewater affair. He also drew the conclusion that Vincent Foster’s death was a suicide. Fiske had concluded similarly years before. Starr finally got a nibble when he discovered the relationship between the President and Monica Lewinsky. Starr was involved in the Paula Jones case, and I think there are indications that a perjury trap was deliberately set for Clinton when he was asked about his relationship with Lewinsky in the Paula Jones case. Clinton’s denial under oath of having a sexual relationship with Lewinsky led to the impeachment process. American tobacco companies had an enormous clout in the Republican Party which pressed for impeachment of the president. House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, a recipient of vast tobacco contributions, was instrumental in omitting the possibility of censuring Clinton and in reviving the impeachment drive in Congress after the 1998 congressional elections. Resentment against the American tobacco industry grew in intensity after the fall of the Soviet Union. The absence of an external enemy may have made the Americans more aware of negative factors within their own country. In this respect, the American tobacco companies can be said to have replaced "the evil" empire in many Americans' minds. After having been under fire in the Clinton period, the tobacco companies must have drawn a sign of relief when George W. Bush defeated the anti-smoking Al Gore. George W. Bush, who had not accepted campaign contributions from tobacco companies while he was governor in Texas, received ample tobacco contributions during his campaign for the presidency. When elected President, Bush appointed many top level aids who had been friendly towards the tobacco industry in the past, among others attorney general John Ashcroft. The Bush administration's reluctance to carry on the Justice Department's case against the tobacco companies may be indicative of tight links between the industry and George W. Bush.President Clinton’s anti-tobacco commitment was marked by political will, courage and strategic skills; all the same, he did not achieve much when it comes to tobacco legislation. Clinton’s general left turn, and unilateralism when preparing his health care plan probably led to the democratic debacle in the 1994 congressional elections. The prospects for sweeping tobacco legislation during Clinton’s second term would have been much brighter with a democratic majority in Congress.