When I suggested that the way to eliminate gun violence in America was to have one billionaire buy the votes of Republicans in Congress and state legislatures, I was walking a line between reality and satire. I thought that $1 billion would be enough to do the job (make the purchase, sale or manufacture of assault weapons illegal), in tandem with a gun buyback program.

Well, friends, the tobacco industry is already doing that, but for way less money.

To hold off the danger of laws making menthol cigarettes illegal, Reynolds American—maker of Newport and Camel cigarettes—has given out almost $6 million to more than 800 legislators.

Menthol in cigarettes and flavored cigars could soon be outlawed, as the US Food and Drug Administration and state legislatures carefully prepare to regulate or legislate them into history.

But one tobacco giant — Reynolds American— is actively spreading millions of dollars to hundreds of state-level political candidates and political action committees, according to an internal corporate governance document reviewed by Insider.