Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Senator Enzi Responds to Attack from Tobacco-Free Kids by Contrasting His Openness with Campaign's Secret Deal with the Largest Tobacco Company

In response to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' public charge that Senator Enzi is a fraud who is apparently not sincere about his own proposal to reduce tobacco use, Senator Enzi criticized the Campaign for cutting a secret deal with Philip Morris that protects Big Tobacco profits at the expense of the public's health.

In addition, he has invited the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to talk, become familiar with his position on tobacco issues, and work together to forge a tobacco policy proposal that will be effective in reducing tobacco use.

In his letter to the Campaign, Senator Enzi contrasted his open approach with what he intimates is a lack of honesty, forthrightness, and openness by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Enzi wrote: "You recently made some comments about my record and my position on various issues relating to tobacco. You claimed to know where I stand on these matters. A meeting between us would give me an opportunity to personally set the record straight and let you know where I stand on smoking and other related tobacco issues. I have put my name, and staked my reputation, on a proposal to get rid of tobacco once and for all, and I hope you will take that as seriously as I do."

"Let me be very clear, right from the start, on exactly what my position is. I stand for bringing innovative and new thinking to old and unsolved problems. I stand for helping current tobacco users quit their deadly habit, and making sure that others, particularly children and adolescents, do not start in the first place. I stand apart from the tobacco companies on these matters and I have never taken a dime in campaign contributions from the tobacco industry, and that is not going to change."

"Finally, in contrast to your organization, which cut a deal in the dead of night with the largest tobacco company in the country, I stand for an open debate and an honest and forthright discussion on these issues and the future of tobacco in the United States."

"I believe my plan has the potential to radically change how we tackle tobacco use in this country. But I also recognize that it is not perfect. I welcome your input and insight into improving it. I hope you will join me in working to eliminate the use of this deadly product. Please contact my office at your earliest convenience so that we can clear the air between us, and then get down to the vital task that is before us of truly saving lives."

The Rest of the Story

The truth is finally coming out. I think the public in general, and tobacco control groups and advocates in particular, need to know the truth about how the FDA legislation came about.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has been running a campaign of deception, in which they have been misleading their own constituents and the public into thinking that Big Tobacco is uniformly opposed to this legislation. They have also refused to be forthright about the negotiations with Philip Morris that led to this bill, and have refused to answer any questions about that secret process.

Attacking Senator Enzi for being a fraud was going one step too far. Now he has exposed their secret deal with the largest tobacco company, making the Campaign's attack on Enzi seem completely hypocritical. Even worse, Enzi does not take tobacco company contributions and has not sought tobacco industry input or agreement in developing his proposal. This contrasts with the Campaign, which agreed to a deal with provisions specifically negotiated with Philip Morris.

While the Campaign essentially let Philip Morris write its favored legislation, Senator Enzi wrote his legislation without tobacco industry involvement.

So who is actually doing Philip Morris' bidding here? It's clearly not Senator Enzi. But ironically, it is indeed the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Perhaps they ought to think twice before attacking someone else for doing the industry's bidding.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis might just as well have been talking about the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids efforts to promote this FDA bill when he wrote that "Sunlight is the best disinfectant."

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