Beating the Tar Out of Big Tobacco

From The Seattle Times:

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved legislation that would give government broad new authority to regulate tobacco products, slash nicotine content and restrict advertising.

Health advocates cheered the 79-17 passage of the bill, saying it could prevent thousands of deaths and reduce the $100 billion in annual health-care costs linked to tobacco usage.

Original DVD cover.

Tobacco allies said the new regulation would cost jobs, hurt farmers and maintain the market dominance of tobacco giant Philip Morris, the maker of Marlboros.

The bill would direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the content and marketing of tobacco products. It would allow the agency to alter the chemical makeup to affect the taste and, health advocates hope, the addictive qualities of tobacco products.

Under the bill, nicotine in cigarettes could be cut to almost zero but not wiped out entirely.


Altria Group, the owner of Philip Morris, issued a statement praising the bill but saying it is imperfect, especially when it comes to advertising restrictions.


President Obama, an occasional smoker who has spoken of his own struggle to quit, said he was eager to sign the legislation into law, an action he said “will make history.”

Tobacco-state interests fought the legislation fiercely. North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr held up Senate floor matters for nearly two weeks to protest the bill, knowing it eventually would pass.


Other critics said tobacco should be regulated by the Agriculture Department, not the FDA.

“The FDA has no business on the family farm,” said Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky. “And while I agree that we should do all that we can to keep cigarettes out of the hands of our kids, this bill is not the answer.”

The 17 senators who voted against the bill were mostly tobacco-state senators.


Tobacco’s influence in the nation’s capital has, on balance, waned in recent years, from a high of $10 million in contributions in the 1996 campaign cycle. Still, the industry continues to spend millions in lobbying, with by far the most amount last year — $13.8 million — spent by Altria.

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

WASHINGTON — The 17 senators who voted against allowing the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco included some of the top recipients of campaign contributions from tobacco manufacturers.

Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss is the third highest recipient of the group.


The Senate passed the FDA bill on Thursday by a 79-17 vote and the House followed suit on Friday, with a 307-97 vote.


Over the course of his more than 20-year career in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from the tobacco-rich state of Kentucky, has received $419,025 from the tobacco industry — more than any other member of Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that analyzes the influence of money on politics and policy.

North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who led the opposition to the bill, is the second highest recipient. Burr netted $359,100 from tobacco-related political action committees and individual contributions. His state is the nation’s largest tobacco grower and is home to R.J. Reynolds, the nation’s second largest tobacco manufacturing company, which contributed $196,850 to Burr’s campaigns.

Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, received $228,700. Kentucky Republicans Rep. Ed Whitfield and Sen. Jim Bunning rank fifth and eighth, with $218,935 and $194,166, respectively.


The senators say cigarette companies’ campaign contributions did not color positions on the legislation.

Yeah, and I still wear a size 2. 🙄


From C-SPAN’s coverage of the U.S. House floor […] during floor debate on regulating tobacco products.

Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN):

    “Too often we should be careful about being cute here on the House floor. So cute means the reference with regard to lettuce. So I’ll follow your logic. Do you realize if you were to take that lettuce, dry it, and roll it, and smoke it. And you go ahead and you smoke your lettuce. Do you realize that you are going to end up with similar problems than if you were smoking tobaccco. It’s not the nicotine that kills. It’s the smoke that kills. So It’s the inhalation of the smoke. That’s what causes and is responsible for the pandemic of cancers, of heart disease, respiratory disease, and other disease. It’s the smoke.”

I wonder if the patch used to quit lettuce is green.

The following Senators voted no on the bill:

Jon Kyl–Arizona
Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson–Georgia
Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning–Kentucky
Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts–Kansas
John Ensign–Nevada
Richard Burr and Kay Hagan (the only Democrat to vote no)–North Carolina
Tom Coburn and James Inhofe–Oklahoma
Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham–South Carolina
Lamar Alexander–Tennessee
Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch–Utah


Filed under Advertising, Barack Obama, Democrats, FDA, humor, James Inhofe, Jon Kyl, Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, movies, Orrin Hatch, parody, Pat Roberts, politics, Republicans, Sam Brownback, Senate, snark, Tom Coburn, Wordpress Political Blogs

24 responses to “Beating the Tar Out of Big Tobacco

  1. I admit that I don’t even try to look at tobacco objectively.

    Both of my grandfathers were killed by the tobacco industry. My paternal grandfather tried to quit but failed repeatedly. He did, finally, but died of heart disease.

    My maternal grandfather would quote back the denials of the tobacco industry from the 80’s about the dangers of smoking. When those execs suddenly changed their story in the 90’s, he tried to quit … but died of throat cancer.

    It is long since time that we noticed that tobacco is a product that kills people who use it as directed.

    Tobacco kills 1000 Americans a day — al-Qaeda dreams of being as effective as Phillip Morris.

    I could go on and on.

    This is another one of those issues where I challenge people who call themselves pro-life … Which is more important, people’s lives or tobacco industry profits?

    Ahem … anyone else want the soapbox? I’m done with it.

    • well said, wickle. i finally quit (for the 4th time) on august 5, 2003. i still crave a ciggie every once in a while, but i resist. my grandmother’s brother was a heavy smoker. he died of lung cancer. not a good way to go.

      i think you made very good use of that soapbox, but you usually do. 🙂

  2. While I’ve never tried heroin, I’m told it’s easier to kick than tobacco.
    Like Obama, I’d love it if I could quit forever and never look back. I’m glad the Feds decided to put the clamps on the cigarette manufacturers and their dicey ingredients.
    The add saltpeter to make them burn faster, they all all sorts of shit for various reasons, and light or low-tar cigs are a farce.
    I’m planning to quit forever soon.
    They suck.

    • Surgeon General Koop testified that nicotine was more addictive than heroin. That’s one man from the Reagan Adminstration whose reputation improved by serving. I don’t know who else would fit that description.

      • it wouldn’t surprise me at all if tobacco is more addictive. just the fact that it’s so easily accessible and legal means that people use it more and get more addicted.

    • this last time was the 4th time i quit. i went cold turkey, because i knew i would keep smoking if i tried to quit gradually. each time i quit, it was more difficult, because they kept adding nicotine and making the damned things more addictive. by the time i quit, i was smoking at least 2 packs a day. i didn’t enjoy it, it was a matter of needing a ciggie, not wanting one.

  3. I was somewhat surprised you didn’t use a “Thank You For Smoking” poster. Then I looked at them and was surprised no longer.

    • thank you for smoking was the first one that popped into my mind, too, neon vincent, but that poster only has one person on it. it was more fun to use a poster i could put more than one moron on.

  4. I only smoke after good sex….I haven’t had a cigarette in years.

  5. Friend of the court

    Do they grow alot of tobacco in Utah?

    • 😆 that’s what i was wondering. we’ll have to wait for jenn to get back from her ozzie adventure to give us the scoop. those mormons have a lot of investments. i wouldn’t be surprised if some of them own some stock in tobacco corporations. it’s all the more ironic since mormons are not allowed to smoke.

      • Ah, but in a lot of cases, it’s one thing to refuse to do something, but it’s quite another to profit from it.

        It would seem that marketing behavior one considers sinful would be a problem, but what a lot of people don’t know is that most religious texts apparently include an exception for “unless you can make a stinkin’ pile of money from it” on most of the moral laws.

        I haven’t found it yet in the Bible, but it must be there … surely these people aren’t all hypocrites, are they?

        • wickle,
          the hypocrites excuse their behavior by telling themselves that they are doing things against their own principles for the greater good. not only do they make a pile of money, but they get to be martyrs, too!

  6. Slowly but surely the cigarette industry, as we know it today, will be defunct. IMO, it shouldn’t even be legal.

    • i agree. tobacco farmers should be encouraged to grow something useful, like hemp.

      • That was my solution when people were talking about a corn shortage caused by ethanol production.

        Why don’t we stop growing tobacco to kill people and use that land to grow more corn? It seems like that’s pretty much a win-win.

  7. @robotsoul

    Jim Bunning is fooling no one by appealing to the “family farm” more like the giant agribusiness that is torching the family farmer’s ability to sustain themselves. But anyway, like all regulation their are built in perks for industry leaders specifically Philip Morris, because the measure makes it harder for smaller companies to enter the market, it also means a longer lag time between the creation of, and the marketing of risk-reducing products. Beyond that it could hurt the credibility of the FDA who is now knowingly putting their stamp of approval on an inherently dangerous product. This story has more:

    • hello robotsoul!
      welcome to the raisin! 😀

      jim bunning is fooling himself by thinking anyone takes anything he says seriously anymore. there are very few family farms. the politicians answer to the call of big agra.

      after the last 8 years, the fda’s credibility has no place to go but up. i don’t think they will ever declare tobacco products to be safe, just as they won’t say that alcohol is good for you.

      it’s very sad that perks have to be built into every bill in order to garner enough votes. however, that’s the way things have been for decades, and it will take time to change that. in the meantime, it will be a good thing to get the cigarette industry regulated.

  8. Indiana

    Steve Buyer is the recipient of the largest amount of tobacco money of any Congressman in the history of Indiana. He is especially favored by Smokeless Tobacco PACs. He is nothing but a spokesperson for his corporate donors. He’s the same guy who said we should use nuclear weapons in Afghanistan and who lied to Congress that he had been called to active duty in Iraq and then took a 3 week leave of absence at his home.