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Politics, greed mark many representatives' smoking votes

That stench emanating from the Louisiana Capitol isn’t from tobacco, it’s that from the hypocrisy surrounding how the House is treating the issue of smoking.

As noted previously, HB 889 which raises revenue from increased tobacco taxes itself is chock full of hypocrisy. It raises money off the destructive behavior of individuals yet does not adequately guard that the money will be used only to prevent or deal with that behavior. An honest bill would dedicate all revenues derived from it to smoking cessation, prevention, treatment of diseases believed associated with it, and research of those, that also does not allow for cost shifting, meaning these new revenues would be added to existing revenues for the same purposes and the old revenues not shunted to be spent on purposes unrelated to smoking. The bill doesn’t do that, so therefore it is more about raising revenue than dealing with smoking.

For some, it also is about politics perhaps more than revenue. Test votes on parliamentary maneuvers showed it does not have enough votes to pass the House, and that it is scheduled to be debated next week means there’s not much of a chance it can pass through the Senate in time to even get to Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal prior to the session end Jun. 25 without extraordinary measures. And Jindal has promised to veto it meaning, given the timeframe, a special veto override session would have to be called to accomplish this which never before has been successful. Only a political payoff – trying to embarrass Jindal in order to hamper his political future – would justify anything more than non-public attempts by the bill’s author, Democrat party official and state Rep. Karen Peterson, to keep it going under these conditions.

But while she may be using the bill as a political cudgel, at least Peterson’s hypocrisy does not extend to the lengths of many of her colleagues. If members who support HB 889, as indicated on the test votes, truly did so not for political or revenue-raising reasons but simply because they think smoking needs to be limited if not outlawed, they also would have voted in favor of HB 844 by Rep. Gary Smith that would have restricted smoking in commercial establishments that sold food and drink to outside, except for Indian casinos. Instead, most did not (Peterson did).

It’s quite simple – for whatever reason one thinks smoking should be restricted, whether that be it is self-destructive, it is a habit that annoys others, or it is a civil liberties issue (people with pulmonary conditions not through their choice effectively are denied entrance to bars because the liberties of those who can choose whether to smoke are given precedence over theirs), this same thinking behind HB 844 support should translate into support of the HB 889. Therefore, if one did not support HB 844 – because perhaps one thought people should have the right to engage in self-destructive behavior, or they had a right to impose it upon others in public places, or their voluntary choices are considered more important than the less-fortunates’ involuntary situations, then it cannot be argued that a vote to continue HB 889 is anything but political and/or money-grubbing in nature.

This produces lists of representatives, one of those who backed not only the indoor smoking ban but also in voting to allow the tobacco tax hike to continue on motions who therefore may be doing it for political reasons but at least are consistent, and one of those who also backed every motion for the tobacco tax to continue but voted against the indoor smoking ban who therefore demonstrate they are putting greed and/or politics ahead of principle. Of the former, Republicans likely are to be principled as they would have no wish to attack Jindal, while the Democrats (and independent leaners that way) likely are injecting politics into their decision even if it comports with their principles. Of the latter, likely it is Republicans that emphasize the greed part since they should be against taxation and would not want to attack Jindal, while the Democrats may share the greed and politics motivations.

And so, the principled: Downs and Ernst.

And, the probable political maybe matching principle: Arnold, A. Badon, Baldone, Barrow, Hill, Hines, M. Jackson, Peterson, G. Smith, St. Germain, and Stiaes.

And the greedy: Carmody, Lambert, Perry, and White.

And the greedy and/or probably political as well: Abramson, Anders, Brossett, Burrell, Dixon, Doerge, Edwards, Franklin, Gisclair, Hardy, Henderson, Honey, Johnson, LaFonta, Montoucet, Norton, Richmond, Ritchie, Roy, P. Smith, and Williams.

Removing only the pair for which it seems certain voted for principle, that’s 25 names that had greed or politics at least as a factor in their decisions, and perhaps as many as 11 more of the 105 members. That’s why the stench from the first floor of the Capitol is so overwhelming.


Anonymous said...

These smoking bans will probably go down in history as one of the greatest marketing scams ever. They want to "hurry up and pass the bans" before people find out who is paying the lobbyists pushing for them.
Here's the beginning of the ban movement in the USA.

As has happened in other states, once a ban is in place, the lobbyists will return as the "coalition for smoke free casinos"
Here are the instructions from Johnson and Johnsons' (makers of cessation products) RWJ Foundation

armouris said...

info on smoking -
Quit Smoking for the Family That Loves You