Land of the Free…Russia?




You know things are out of whack when Russia is more compassionate than the United States when it comes to smoking.  That country’s chief addiction doctor says smokers should stop being treated like animals and should be given “humane” areas where they can smoke.


“The sale of tobacco in Russia is allowed officially and the government gets an income in the form of excise duties,” says Evgeny Bryun an expert in drug and alcohol dependency at Russia’s Health Ministry, “So the government must provide smokers with smoking areas.”


The doctor says bans alone will not stop smoking.  No kidding.  Oh yeah and he realizes tobacco is a LEGAL product from which they get money for the state.




Speaking of cash,  the bankrupt state of Kalifornia is going for more green by hitting tobacco again.

According to the New York Times, Kalifornia is one of the states that is hurting because it issued municipal bonds based on the Master Tobacco Settlement of 1998.  The states expected huge windfalls from the cigarette companies because of the settlement…and for a few years they got it.  Then, as smoking rates declined as tobacco taxes went up, all of the sudden there is no money to pay those bonds.  So when you run out of money because fewer people smoke what do you do?  If you are the geniuses in Kalifornia you go back to the well again even though it is running dry.

On June 5th, residents of Kalifornia will be voting on yet another tobacco tax.  According to a brain dead Nurse, Social Worker, and, of course, Educator over at the Huffington Post, the vote is simple.  She headlines her article:

“Vote yes on Prop 219: Cut Health Care Costs, Spur the Economy and Cure Cancer.

 I am surprised it is not for the kids too.

Prop 29 supposedly will raise $735 million by more than doubling the taxes on cigarette and increasing cigar taxes by 73 percent.  (Right cuz state estimates of money worked out so well for those bonds.)


Opponents to the issue say it will create another bureaucracy in the state with little to no oversight.  (For example the pros say the cancer research will stimulate places like UCal…yet the law says nothing of where the money can be spent on research…maybe India.)  Anyway it is a cash grab.


And of course the American Cancer Society is taking the opposition with good grace.  NOT.  The organization called out a lowly blogger by name and said he was a pawn of Big Tobacco.  He wishes.  But that is not the worst.


American Cancer and the other anti smoking groups most likely set up a vile hit piece on a doctor who appears in the Vote No commercials.  They say she is doing it for the money because she is broke.  Lots of accusations in the hit piece and very little evidence.  Knowing the quality of most reporters these days, this story was probably handed to them.


Adds Chris McCalla—Legislative Director for the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers, which has kicked in some cash for the vote no effort—


“Dr. Porter is speaking out on behalf of her patients and others around the state that Prop. 29 will do nothing but waste million of California tax dollars. How shameless of the reporter to drag her personal finances into this issue and make baseless, unethical accusations and by publicly questioning the doctor’s motivations. And the media wonders why the public is skeptical of journalism. No fact checking, just accusations.”


If you can stomach the article in the Mercury News you will find it to be filled with Bullshit. It sounds like it was written by ACS themselves.  For example:


“In 2002, she took the side of the chemical industry against health advocates. She became a key voice in opposing an EPA-proposed regulation of perchlorate, a water pollutant that environmentalists say has harmful effects on infants and children.”


The implication of this was that dirty manufacturers put this  chemical into the water.  But actually, Percholrate, according to the California Department of Toxic Substances (who knew the state had that department),  is naturally occurring in water (it has even been found on Mars).  In sufficient doses it affect the Thyroid and some manufacturers use the chemical.   However,  an EPA study in 2006 tested water across the country and found the highest levels of the chemical in drinking water to be in the range or 6.4 parts per billion….the area where there could be health effects is 245 parts per billion.  But yeah it is easier to smear the Doctor by writing she sided with the Chemical Industry against HEALTH advocates than tell the truth.


These people will continue to push and push.  We need to fight back.  Make sure you have signed the White House Petition and  tell all your friends about it.  Also send petitions to Congress to keep the FDA away from our smokes.

As Manuel Quesada maker of Fonseca and  Casa Magna  told me years ago when the big debate was over S-CHIP taxes, he said the bigger worry was the FDA… if cigars fall under the FDA it is game set and match.


Enlightenment in Springfield, MO

The folks at Live Free Springfield have chalked up their first victory.  The group was formed to fight the city’s draconian smoking ban that was voted in last year.  The group says it is not about smoking but about rights.  This year, Live Free Springfield gathered enough signatures to put a repeal of the smoking ban on the June ballot.  Last night, the council voted to modify the current smoking ban to exempt e-cigarettes (which contain neither tobacco nor produce smoke) and to grandfather  cigar stores and certain other retail establishments to allow smoking IF they were around on April 5, 2011.  Which means you cannot open a smoking cigar shop today.


While the council action is good news and a victory, the election is still going forward. According to Live Free Springfield:

The 2011 ban has gone way beyond “protecting” public health and into the realm of destroying businesses and taking away personal property rights making Springfield one of the most extreme cities in the country. We will continue to work for the full repeal of the 2011 ban to help further solve this problem. The 2003 ban will still be in place and will allow for people to enjoy themselves in a smoke-free environment.

The group has a fight on its hands, but with your help they can win.


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