Don’t let Big Tobacco purchase this election

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Sure, there’s the easy reason to vote “Yes” on Proposition 29: Smoking kills and Big Tobacco is the Devil. The harmful effects of smoking on both the smoker and those around him/her are indisputable.

If you think they’re not, just stop. Save us both the aggravation, because you’re wrong.

It’s this simple: Smoking kills.

Period.

If you believe otherwise, you’re not just wrong, you’re stupid, too. And like Ron White says, you can’t fix stupid, so puff away, good buddy — but from inside a plastic bubble so I don’t have to inhale your foul toxins. While you’re busy shortening your life, the rest of us will dig into Proposition 29 a bit further.

Proposition 29 first caught my attention several weeks back when alleged physician LaDonna Porter, M.D., appeared in a television commercial and encouraged voters not to support this proposition that will fund cancer research.

First off, I was skeptical that Porter is a real doctor. For one thing, she struggled to pronounce “bureaucracy” and we all know that doctors have impeccable enunciation. But the bigger clue was a doctor taking a stand against an anti-tobacco proposition. What’s wrong with that picture?

Porter (who it turns out apparently is a real physician, albeit one whose opinion can be purchased) took a Hippocratic Oath upon receiving her medical license to do no harm. Her endorsement of the “No on 29” campaign promotes harm. Where is the California Board of Medical Quality Assurance? Her medical license should be yanked.

I applaud Governor Jerry Brown for removing Porter from the state advisory panel on toxicants following this commercial. Either she is grossly ignorant about toxicants or has no integrity, or both, and has no place on a public health panel.

As for Proposition 29 itself, californiansforacure.org summarizes it quite simply: Prop 29 — The California Cancer Research Act — is a qualified ballot initiative that will be placed before voters in June 2012. Through a $1 per-pack tax on cigarettes, Prop 29 delivers over $700 million every year for cancer research and to keep kids from smoking.

Opponents, however, have reframed this as just more of that “brurocracy” Porter bemoaned. What if they’re correct. What if all the money goes straight into the yawning maw of state governmental waste. To that I say — so what. I don’t care if they use that money as toilet paper in the Capitol restrooms. An extra dollar per pack tax creates a financial deterrent to smoking, and is therefore a good thing. If the only thing Prop 29 tax accomplishes is to make it more difficult and expensive to smoke, and particularly to start smoking, it’s money well spent.

But there’s another reason to support Proposition 29: The financial backers of the “No on 29” campaign are Philip Morris USA and RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company. Big Tobacco is ponying up to protect their bottom line. And it’s a big pony. A $38 million pony. Lung cancer is their cash cow, baby, and they’re willing to fork over a fortune to protect it.

With $38 mill on the line, Big Tobacco had plenty of money to make another “No on 29” commercial, with an equally unconvincing “researcher,” declaring that Prop 29 taxes won’t be used to create new jobs.

Two things.

First, taxes are not used solely to create jobs. (Funny side note: When they do create jobs, it’s labeled “brurocracy” by the Right Wing.) Taxes fund all sorts of things, like roads and schools and parks and policemen and yes, research. Just because a tax is levied does not imply, nor has ever implied, that it will be used to create jobs. But the “No” camp is hoping that little fact will flash right past your attention. This “What about jobs?” meme is a Right Wing brain gulp. It’s like “I support the troops!” Your brain will swallow that right down whole, without even chewing.

Well, most brains, anyway. Mine? It chews on stuff. Spits it out, too.

Second, it’s a lie. Prop 29 taxes absolutely will create new jobs. Do you think the research is going to do itself? Scientists and lab technicians will be needed to do that research and last time I looked, those are jobs. Big Tobacco drew the line between taxes and no new jobs with a red herring — another reason why the “No on 29” campaign stinks.

So. Beyond the intrinsic evil of tobacco and its pushers, the arguably uglier matter is that the “No on 29” campaign is being orchestrated by Big Tobacco, with the sole purpose of misleading the public and purchasing an election result. NO ONE should endorse that. “No on 29” is blatant corporate manipulation at the political level. Voting “No” on Proposition 29 helps to perpetuate the corporate takeover of our democracy. That is what you’re really voting for.

Voting on Proposition 29 is a no-brainer. Big Tobacco is the “fashion don’t” of the ballot box. Whatever Big Tobacco’s position is — take the opposite. Just like the lethality of smoking, it’s really just that simple.

As for those who are persuaded by Big Tobacco’s lies and manipulations, and planning to vote “No,” I’m certain that 99 percent of them are smokers who, by definition, don’t care about their own health and therefore care even less about anyone else’s. Some attempt to mask their self-serving motives by arguing that it’s unfair to tax cigarettes unless you tax junk food too, because obesity is also a killer. I agree wholeheartedly. Tax Twinkies, too. However, there’s one key difference: When someone eats a Twinkie next to me, my arteries don’t get clogged. When you smoke next to me, I’m forced to inhale your smoke and my lungs get coated with carcinogens.

In summary, yes, yes YES!!! on Proposition 29. If smokers have the right to give me lung cancer against my will, then I have the right to tax them to find a cure for it.

— Email Debra at debra@wintersexpress.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com, www.edebra.com and www.ipinion.us

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4 comments
  1. “Through a $1 per-pack tax on cigarettes, Prop 29 delivers over $700 million every year for cancer research and to keep kids from smoking.”

    The big problem in my opinion with Prop 29 is what it funds–more cancer research. The federal government currently spends about $5 billion every year on cancer research. That’s enough. There are plenty of other diseases which are underfunded.

    If people simply chose not to smoke, almost all of the lung cancer that the cancer research which Prop 29 will fund would be cured without any more cancer research at all.

    In large part because I don’t smoke, have never smoked and will never smoke, I have no problem with adding $1 to the cost of a package of cigarettes. This tax won’t cost me a penny. I have no ties to big or small tobacco.

    However, I think Prop 29 would be far better, if instead of giving more and more money over to cancer research, it gave all of its money to primary medical and dental care for low-income, uninsured Californians.

    The Legislative Analyst says this tax will raise $810 million per year, beginning in 2013-14. I think we would do far more good for far more people if we gave 200,000 low-income Californians a voucher for primary medical and dental care worth $4,050 per year each.

  2. “Through a $1 per-pack tax on cigarettes, Prop 29 delivers over $700 million every year for cancer research and to keep kids from smoking.”

    The big problem in my opinion with Prop 29 is what it funds–more cancer research. The federal government currently spends about $5 billion every year on cancer research. That’s enough. There are plenty of other diseases which are underfunded.

    If people simply chose not to smoke, almost all of the lung cancer that the cancer research which Prop 29 will fund would be cured without any more cancer research at all.

    In large part because I don’t smoke, have never smoked and will never smoke, I have no problem with adding $1 to the cost of a package of cigarettes. This tax won’t cost me a penny. I have no ties to big or small tobacco.

    However, I think Prop 29 would be far better, if instead of giving more and more money over to cancer research, it gave all of its money to primary medical and dental care for low-income, uninsured Californians.

    The Legislative Analyst says this tax will raise $810 million per year, beginning in 2013-14. I think we would do far more good for far more people if we gave 200,000 low-income Californians a voucher for primary medical and dental care worth $4,050 per year each.

  3. “It’s this simple: Smoking kills. Period. If you believe otherwise, you’re not just wrong, you’re stupid, too.”

    LOL! And I thought I was opinionated. Sometimes you just gotta tell it like it is.

  4. “It’s this simple: Smoking kills. Period. If you believe otherwise, you’re not just wrong, you’re stupid, too.”

    LOL! And I thought I was opinionated. Sometimes you just gotta tell it like it is.

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