Two state lawmakers taking money from tobacco

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I am angry. Maybe you should be angry, too.

According to ASH — Action on Smoking & Health — two members of the U.S. Congress for our area have accepted money from tobacco companies.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has accepted $500 and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., has accepted $1,000.

If folks want to see a copy of the map of Washington giving this information go to www.ash.org/map.

ASH’s letter accompanying that news included this:

“Tobacco has no redeeming value. It is the only legally sold consumer product that kills the user when used as intended. There is no possible way for an elected official to serve the public interest while serving the interest of the tobacco industry.”

The letter then urged folks to send a letter to the involved people to tell them that this is simply unacceptable.

Cantwell can be reached at 825 Jadwin Ave., Suite 206, Richland, WA 99352; McMorris Rodgers can be reached at 29 S. Palouse St., Walla Walla, WA 99362. Her office phone number is 509-529-9358.

At this point it has not been possible to determine just who representing the tobacco industry provided those funds to our officials. But if folks like to get some idea as to how much money may be spent by tobacco companies in some states this access is one way: www.tobaccomoney.com.

From that website I learned that in California in the first year and a half of the 2011-2012 election cycle tobacco interests spent $1.6 million for lobbying and $47 million on campaign contributions.

Oklahoma is another example of how tobacco interests have been able to influence a legislation to a significant degree through lobbying and contributions.

At this point I have been unable to determine the total spending by tobacco interests in Washingon State. It is my guess that ASH is going to find that out and hopefully that can be made available.

Now for some information about ASH and its activities. It was formed in 1967 by John F. Banzhof III and a distinguished body of physicians, lawyers and other prominent citizens. It has been one of the leading organizations worldwide in fighting tobacco interests. Here are two of their successes: A ban on cigarette commercials over the airwaves in 1972 and the ban on smoking on airline flights in 1990.

There is another area that has been troubling and that is that due to certain international treaties and laws the tobacco industry has been able to prevent governments in several countries from passing laws that could help cut down on the sale of tobacco products.

ASH is actively involved in trying to alter this situation. I say more power to them. I am glad to have had the opportunity of contributing to their efforts over the years.

Dr. Don Casebolt of College Place is a retired physician who is passionate about preventive medicine. He spent four years as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy, the last 2 1/2 years as a flight surgeon. He also worked on the Navajo Reservation for 22 years.

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