- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A government watchdog group says lobbying by the tobacco industry has been on the rise across the state.

A report by the New York Public Interest Research Group released Wednesday says that the tobacco industry spent $7 million in the first half of 2013 on tobacco lobbying and campaign donations, more than it did on during 2011 and 2012 combined.

The group says the industry lobbied in New York City, the cities of Buffalo and Binghamton, and in Albany, Columbia, Madison and Suffolk counties. NYPIRG says the lobbying involved opposition to local health initiatives.

NYPIRG reports that Altria, formerly Philip Morris, spent the most, with more than $4 million on lobbying and more than $300,000 on campaign contributions.

Altria spokesman David Sutton says the company participates in policy-making that could affect it, shareholders and consumers.

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