Thursday, January 10, 2008

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Opens 2008 With...


No surprise there.

In a communication sent to its constituents, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids warned that Philip Morris might "unleash the beast" in 2008 and create a menthol cigarette brand that might compete with Newport for market share among African American smokers.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in an appeal for donations, warns its constituents that: "While you are ringing in 2008 with family and friends, Big Tobacco is unleashing a beast - a beast that could wreak havoc on the health of youth and adults across the U.S. ... Just read what Wall Street tobacco industry analyst Bonnie Herzog had to say about the Black & Mild cigar brand, newly purchased by Altria: "[It] has done very well in parts of the inner cities, and there's always an opportunity to extend that brand and possibly create a menthol cigarette to compete with the very, very successful Newport brand... These are the types of things that I'm referring to when I say 'unleash the beast.'" Beating the beast of Big Tobacco in every city, every state and every venue will be an enormous and expensive undertaking. That's why it's crucial that we build our arsenal now to prepare for the fight ahead."

Approximately 70% of African American youth smokers smoke Newport cigarettes. The concern being expressed by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is that if Philip Morris develops a menthol brand, it could attract youth smokers, especially African Americans. Only about 8% of African American youth smokers smoke Marlboro cigarettes.

The Rest of the Story

The rest of the story is that at the same time that the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids bemoans the possibility that Philip Morris might develop a new brand that could attract youth smokers through the addition of menthol flavoring and asks for donations to help ensure that doesn't occur, the Campaign opposed an amendment to the FDA tobacco legislation that would have prevented tobacco companies from recruiting youth smokers by adding menthol to their cigarettes.

Regardless of how one feels about the addition of menthol to cigarettes and whether that should be allowed or not, one has to be troubled by an organization that out of one side of its mouth asks people for donations to help it fight the addition of menthol to cigarettes and out of the other side of its mouth lobbies in Congress to protect the ability of the cigarette companies to add menthol to cigarettes.

What kind of integrity must you have to ask people to donate money to help you achieve a goal when your organization is actively fighting against that goal?

How much more disingenuous can you possibly be?

Is there any limit to the hypocrisy that an anti-smoking organization can display?

I chose not to make a contribution to the Tobacco-Free Kids Action fund specifically because this appeal was disingenuous. You don't come to me asking for money to support a cause if you have actively worked against that cause. Frankly, I think that is dishonest, unethical, and unfair to one's constituents.

So far, it is not looking like 2008 has brought any changes to the anti-smoking movement. Apparently, being honest was not one of the New Year's resolutions that the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids made.

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