EDITORIAL: Smoke and Mirrors
Date: June 8, 1999
REMEMBER those tobacco lawsuits? Remember how those
state attorneys hammered tobacco companies for marketing
Remember how the deal was that a goodly sum of the money
the states recovered would go for programs to counteract
company ad campaigns and to keep children from developing
the noxious habit?
Well, now that some states have begun collecting the tobacco
booty, their legislators are reneging on the grounds that
smoking prevention programs may not be a wise investment.
The standard excuse given for the switch after the tobacco
companies took the bait is that youth prevention programs
haven't been tested and no one can be sure they work. And
boy, wouldn't that money be helpful paying for something else?
In Texas there seems some inclination to set the money aside
for health spending. One bill under consideration would invest
from $10 million to $20 million, another bill $40 million to
$50 million on prevention programs.
In Florida Gov. Jeb Bush wanted to spend $61 million on anti-
smoking programs. The House first had in mind nothing at all,
then raised the ante to $30 million. Similar stories are emerging
from Massachusetts, which, with Florida, is said to have model
anti-smoking programs, as well as Minnesota and Washington
What all of this says is that some state officials are on a par with
tobacco executives when it comes to reliability and believability.
And if a pot of money they've collected for one purpose gets
large, they will raid it and divert funds to pet projects with the
alacrity of common brigands.
They must be stopped.
This settlement was sought for kids and to reimburse states for
medical costs advanced on behalf of indigent smokers. It should
be utilized for those purposes or returned as ill-gotten gains
attained through false pretenses.