Engagement with Stakeholders
Altria and its companies inform stakeholders — including retailers, wholesalers, growers, suppliers, adult consumers and employees — of our public policy positions to protect and promote shared interests. We often provide our stakeholders with materials that describe our positions on issues, and when appropriate, may ask our stakeholders to share their views with government officials.
For example, Altria's tobacco operating companies support three websites — Tobacco Issues (for tobacco retailers and trade members), Citizens for Tobacco Rights (for adult tobacco consumers) and Voices for Consumer Choice (for adults 21+) — to provide our stakeholders with information on proposed legislation and regulations and to facilitate their communications with their elected officials. We also support three associated social media sites for Citizens for Tobacco Rights (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and for Voices for Consumer Choice (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).
Prior to elections, we may sponsor non-partisan voter education and awareness campaigns for our employees and adult tobacco consumers. These campaigns stress the importance of voting and encourage adult tobacco consumers to make their voices heard on Election Day. These efforts are designed to help individuals register to vote and participate in the electoral process by providing information about voter registration, polling locations and candidates for state and federal offices.
Membership in Policy-Oriented Organizations
Like most major corporations, Altria and its companies are members of policy-oriented organizations focused on issues that affect our business. These organizations, which include trade associations and other membership organizations, engage in activities such as educational initiatives, professional development and training, public policy research and outreach, and direct or grassroots lobbying.
We develop and maintain partnerships with third-party organizations that share our views on issues important to our companies and that effectively and responsibly research, communicate and advocate on those issues. Before we partner with any organization, including trade associations and other membership organizations, we carefully and thoughtfully consider whether our support of the organization is in the best interest of our companies and whether our partnership would raise any legal or reputational concerns.
Our support for third-party organizations includes financial contributions. Additionally, for key organizations, our employees may hold volunteer leadership roles, such as serving on a board of directors, committee or advisory council. Below is a comprehensive listing of the national and state trade associations and policy-oriented membership organizations where our senior executives and Government Affairs employees serve in leadership roles. We update this list annually. We appreciate the volunteer service of our employees and value our partnership with these leading organizations, which often serve as a forum for sharing views and exchanging ideas on policy issues important to us.
- American Red Cross
- Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
- Congressional Black Caucus Institute
- Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute
- Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
- Hispanic Lobbyist Association
- National Association of Business Political Action Committees
- National Association of Convenience Stores
- National Association of Manufacturers
- National Association of Tobacco Outlets
- National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators
- Private Enterprise Advisory Council, American Legislative Exchange Council
- Q Street
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- Women in Government Foundation
- California Manufacturers & Technology Association
- California Tax Association
- California Wine Institute
- Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry
- James River Association
- Keep Virginia Beautiful
- New England Convenience Stores and Energy Marketers Association
- Southern Wholesalers Association
- Texas Association of Business
- Texas Taxpayers and Research Association
- Virginia Chamber of Commerce
- Washington Wine Industry Foundation
We understand the potential reputational risks that could arise from our involvement in and financial support of third-party organizations. For this reason, each year we carefully review our membership in national and state trade associations and policy-oriented membership organizations. Additionally, before we provide support to such organizations, the contribution is reviewed and approved by the ALCS Law department as well as a vice president in the Government Affairs department. While we may not necessarily agree with every position taken by each organization we support, we do assess whether the intended use of a contribution is consistent with our Vision and Our Cultural Aspiration before making it. If an organization we support adopts a public policy position that we do not agree with, we may voice our objection to it and choose to not participate in advocacy related to that subject. In some cases, we may actively lobby against the position of an organization of which we are a member or determine that our continued membership in the organization is impracticable, in which case we could withdraw our membership.
Additionally, in our annual evaluation of our support of third-party organizations, we examine whether each organization is able to effectively address the issues of concern to our businesses, and on balance, serve the long-term interests of our companies and shareholders. This means assessing whether:
- the organization is effectively advancing positions important to our businesses;
- their involvement on other issues is not inconsistent with our interests;
- they hold themselves to high standards of conduct; and
- our participation in an organization can positively influence how it operates.
Altria and its companies participate in formal and informal coalitions and committees to help communicate our views on public policy issues that affect our business. Coalition engagement is another way we work with external organizations that share similar views on public policy issues. Examples of this engagement include coalitions on tobacco tax issues, tobacco trade issues, corporate taxation policy, dividends tax policy and efforts to combat tobacco smuggling.
When we participate in these coalitions, we expect, at a minimum, that the coalition will disclose our support in the same way it would for any other company. However, in some situations, company policies may require additional disclosures that go beyond what the recipients ordinarily provide for other donors. Additionally, we disclose our coalition involvement as may be required by federal, state or local lobbying laws and regulations.
Because political participation is vital to our democracy, we encourage employees of Altria and its companies to participate as individual citizens in civic affairs. For example, we encourage employees to actively engage in the political process and support the political candidates and parties of their choice. However, employees must do so on their own time and with their own resources. Company funds or resources may not be used for personal political activities.