At a time of unprecedented success, anti-tobacco now faces increased hostility from those whom it most assiduously courted.
Politicians and bureaucrats in Ohio, once firmly in anti-tobacco’s pocket, are finding that pursuing the anti-smoking agenda comes with a high cost that could soon prove politically unacceptable. Last week we reported that the Ohio legislature and governor plan to drain funding from the state’s Tobacco Prevention Foundation, an outfit created by the state to pay for smoking cessation programs and to conduct "educational" anti-smoking campaigns. The foundation is funded by the 1998 tobacco settlement, which transfered $260-billion from smokers through higher cigarette prices to 46 states. Settlement money can be spent any way the states see fit. Few states opted to set up anti-tobacco foundations as did Ohio. As the food fight between the legislature and the foundation becomes more acrimonious fewer still will ever allow anti-tobacco to obtain a state-financed funding source.
One of anti-tobacco’s stated goals is to achieve a perpetual funding source everywhere it operates. Removing the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation from the public teat is a huge defeat for anti-tobacco and explains the tenacity by which it tries to hold onto the loot. The state, through the governor and the legislature, is equally tenacious and as time goes by it is becoming clearer that the tough cookies who run the anti-tobacco rackets have met their match. While anti-tobacco represents a tiny cadre of special interest ideologues the governor and the legislature represent the voters who want a jobs training program to be financed with the funds taken back from the Tobacco Prevention Foundation. The Foundation finds itself increasingly on the wrong side of the public relations battle, its usually reliable allies missing in action or curiously reticent, with only a few national anti-tobacco organizations still willing to plead the foundation’s case.
In addition to funding the jobs program at the expense of the foundation a proposal in the Ohio House would eliminate the agency completely. (Stored Copy) A plan drawn up by the Republican controlled House would take the $40-million remaining with the foundation and give it to the state’s Department of Public Health to pay the foundation’s bills. That would eliminate this wasteful anti-tobacco organization completely. The plan has the support of the Democratic governor.
The governor and legislature have discovered the joy of telling anti-tobacco to go to hell. Politicians in other states will soon follow suit.
More bad news, link below, slaps anti-tobacco as Ohio localities discover that enforcing the state’s no smoking law comes with an unacceptable cost. While the law provides for localities enforcing the law to keep 90 percent of the fines levied, bean counters from across the state calculate that enforcement costs far outweigh the recompense derived from the fines. Strapped localities can turn over inspection and violation investigation to the state’s health department but that organization doesn’t have, and in a time of budget crunches, most likely won’t have the resources to fritter away on a "crime" that only anti-tobacco ideologues regard as criminal. So far nearly 30,000 smoking violations have been processed, which contradicts the promise of universal compliance made by anti-tobacco operatives. Most incidents of non-compliance do not ever make it to the official complaint stage. In short, Ohio’s smoking ban is a disaster for anti-tobacco and the politicians it bought.
It may seem preposterous or wildly premature to relegate anti-tobacco to the dustbin of rotten ideas discarded by a disgusted people. Certainly anti-tobacco continues to ride high in this country as well as in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe. As a political force it has been and will continue to be potent. Time, however, is not on anti-tobacco’s side. It has brought nothing of value to any society in which it operates while its destructive aspects become more obvious to all observers. All nations under its sway are facing financial hardships and will, if they hope to survive, ineluctably turn aside from the wasteful, counter-productive and divisive agenda promoted by anti-tobacco. Last year anti-tobacco’s money grab in the U.S. Congress was defeated while in Ohio and other states elected politicians see their political fortunes grow brighter by opposing anti-tobacco. The battle to eliminate the malignancy that is anti-tobacco isn’t anywhere near over but evidence suggests that a tipping point is, or shortly will, be reached.