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« Fla. initiative battle royal | The Journal on tobacco, cont'd »

July 20, 2004

Puffing away: the government's misbegotten tobacco adventures continue

The Wall Street Journal's lead editorial today (subscription required) takes on Congress's "Marlboro Men," i.e., the tobacco bill that passed the Senate last week, which "gives federal regulators long-sought authority over the cigarette industry in exchange for a $13 billion buyout of tobacco farmers." The column notes that Philip Morris, America's biggest tobacco manufacturer, has supported the deal -- presumably because it would "lock into place competitive advantages for the cigarette industry's biggest company and give government a rooting interest in its long-term survival."

The editorial continues, "One reason some of us opposed the 1998 settlement between Big Tobacco and the states was that it would make the government a de facto partner with these so-called merchants of death. " One such was our editor, Walter Olson, who reported on the details of the deal on back in 1999: "'"There'll be adjustments each year based on inflation," said Brett DeLange, head of the Idaho attorney general's consumer protection unit. Plus, "If cigarette volume goes down, our payments will go down. If volume goes up, our payments will go up even more."' Why, it's like Christmas come early! Of course DeLange denies that this arrangement will in any way dampen the state's enthusiasm for reducing tobacco use."

Posted by James R. Copland at 09:31 AM | TrackBack (1)

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