Last week President Obama signed new legislation giving the federal government more regulatory power over tobacco products. Hailed as limiting the power of the tobacco lobbies in Washington and reducing the ability of tobacco companies to market their products to children, the bill was praised as the most powerful law yet to bring Big Tobacco to heel in regard to its targeting minors. In reality, it does very little, especially since Philip Morris itself helped draft the bill.
The bill’s sponsors knew that nothing would pass Congress without the industry’s consent (such is the power of Big Tobacco on the Hill). So they worked with Philip Morris all the way to devise language, regulation and legislation that sounds tough but actually provides the tobacco giant with still greater protection against further regulation, liability and even competition. So in truth the new law is all smoke and no fire, an elaborate smoke screen to make the President look good (he’s protecting our children) while giving more power to Big Tobacco. Isn’t that the American way? Who really runs this country? Well, if we didn’t know before, I guess we just found out.
To find out more go to http://www.democracynow.org/2009/7/2/up_in_smoke_how_the_tobacco