Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Strange Bedfellows, Adventists and Philip Morris

SDA’s partner with Phillip Morris and Tobacco State Representatives and declare themselves on the side of right.

Speaking of the win in the Senate this last week James Standish writes on SDAnet:

I was discussing the impending vote with coalition colleagues yesterday, and in that discussion I noted that Adventists have been leading this charge for a long, long time now. Indeed, we could say that along with the Methodists, we invented this movement. It is wonderful that each of us has been able to play our part in keeping this flame alive. The other side has the money, the influence, all the tricks of their trade, but we have right on our side and we will never, ever, ever give up!

Earlier this week on the Liberty Blog Standish wrote in part:

Vote on Our Tobacco Bill this Week!

Dear Friends of Freedom:

This is an urgent appeal. For years, Seventh-day Adventists have worked diligently and persistently to protect our children and our society from the predatory practices of big tobacco. Now we finally have a vote scheduled in the U.S. House of Representatives.

So who is in this coalition of right and why do they think that the government needs to pay 12 Billion dollars to pay out Tobacco farmers.

From CBS News

An unlikely coalition of anti-smoking advocates and tobacco-state senators pushed to secure the 78-15 vote to add the twin measures to a massive corporate tax bill that the Senate then passed on a voice vote and sent to a House-Senate conference committee.

The House-passed tax bill includes a plan to pay tobacco farmers to leave the federal tobacco-growing system but does not give the FDA any new powers. Health groups hailed the Senate action.

The FDA asserted authority over cigarettes in 1996, but the Supreme Court later ruled that only Congress can give the FDA that power.

Philip Morris USA is the only major tobacco company to support FDA regulation of cigarettes. Company executives say it could better communicate with customers about new, safer products in a regulated environment with clear, uniform rules.

The other major tobacco companies say the new advertising restrictions would make it harder for them to gain new customers while ensuring that Philip Morris retains its market share.

Those companies have supported the House buyout approach, which isn't linked to FDA regulation and would pay farmers $9.6 billion over five years with taxpayer money.

The $12 billion farmer buyout approved by the Senate would be paid for by an assessment on the companies.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, was the lead sponsor of the Senate buyout. He called it "vital to the future livelihoods of our tobacco farmers and their families."

So is this really some kind of right side that gives corporate welfare to tobacco growers and sides with the largest Tobacco companies in the United States. Tobacco which is normally grown as an annual plant; means that it is planted and harvested yearly and thus not a long term plant or tree does not really seem to at first glance need a buyout for tobacco farmers. In other words the land that tobacco grows on can be used for other crops at the desire of the farmer. So now we see why the Tobacco state representatives are voting for this bill. 12 billion dollars from the federal government, that is you and me to a few Tobacco growing states is good for their economy.

U.S. Tobacco Subsidies in United States totaled $530 million from 1995-2006.

At the same time the U.S has required warning labels on cigarettes since 1966 and the warning message was last updated in 1984, yet we subsidize it’s growth and marketing and now want to spend even more in a proposed buyout of farmers to stop growing something that the Federal government has subsidized and advertised as hazardous to smoker’s health.

Is that what government is for? Is it really the best way for SDA’s groups like the North American Religious Liberty Association to be joining forces with Philip Morris and Tobacco State Representatives and claim that they are on the side of right.

The following conversation took place in the debate over this bill and is relayed by the Courier-Journal, it is rather telling as it displays the difference between government bureaucracy verses the nanny state, and which side is really about freedom.

We offer this strange exchange between House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. The edited transcript from The Congressional Record follows:

"Mr. BOEHNER … Now this bill has been hanging around here for 15 years. For 15 years, we've been trying to move this piece of legislation. We're going to charge the tobacco companies about $5 billion over the next few years to pay for a bureaucracy here in Washington so we can regulate tobacco.

"Now, listen. Most of my colleagues know that I smoke. I know that smoking is probably not good for my health. Most people who smoke in America know that smoking is probably not good for their health. Do we need the federal government to tell us? Do we need to spend $5 billion of smokers' money for the government to tell us that smoking is not good for us? I don't think so ... Frankly, the whole idea that the federal government ought to regulate more and more and more of our lives just gets under my skin.

"I have great respect for my colleague from Michigan. He is a great member of Congress, and we've worked together on a lot of issues, but this is a bone-headed idea … We've already got labels on cigarettes. You've got some companies that might as well put a billboard on a pack of cigarettes so that you know that it's bad for you. I can imagine what will happen after we get more government regulations on this issue.

"I would just ask my colleagues: How much is enough? How much regulation and how much government and how much bureaucracy do we need before we finally say, 'Enough is enough?' Let's stop. Let's vote against this bill.

"Mr. DINGELL. Madam Speaker, I yield myself 15 seconds for the purpose of responding to my beloved friend, the minority leader.

"This legislation is on the floor because people are killing themselves by smoking these evil cigarettes. The distinguished gentleman, the minority leader, is going to be amongst the next to die. I am trying to save him, as the rest of us are, because he is committing suicide every time he puffs on one of those things."

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