Senator Dick Durbin yesterday called on the NCAA and the Orange Bowl to rescind sponsorship of the Bowl by Camacho Cigars.
Durbin and several other Senators wrote: "Tobacco has no place in sports, and the promotion of cigars at the Orange Bowl sends the wrong message to young fans. A tobacco company’s sponsorship of the Orange Bowl undermines a premier collegiate sporting event and promotes tobacco use to young fans, putting them at risk of developing an addictive and dangerous habit. Furthermore, Camacho Cigars’ sponsorship is at odds with the NCAA rules prohibiting tobacco use by student athletes and all game personnel in any form at practice and in competitions."
The letter to the Orange Bowl noted that: "The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 bans sponsorship of sporting and entertainment events by cigarette and smokeless tobacco brands."
It then argued that: "Cigars contain the same toxic and cancer-causing chemicals found in cigarettes, and public health experts have warned that cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes."
The Rest of the Story
The rest of the story is that Senator Durbin has no one to blame but himself.
It was he who championed the legislation which exempted cigars from the sports sponsorship ban. If Senator Durbin felt so strongly that "tobacco has no place in sports," and that "cigars contain the same toxic and cancer-causing chemicals found in cigarettes," then why didn't he include a ban on cigar sponsorship of sporting events in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act which he championed?
The same criticism that Durbin is leveling at the NCAA and the Orange Bowl could be leveled at Durbin himself for his failure to include cigars in the tobacco sports sponsorship ban. Why did he not heed his own warning that "cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes?"
The situation might be different if Senator Durbin had nothing to do with the tobacco legislation. If he were trying to clear up a loophole that others had inserted into the legislation, it would be one thing. But Durbin championed the legislation. He was certainly in a position to suggest that it be amended to include a ban on cigar sponsorship of sporting events. The loophole he is lambasting now is the very loophole he created!
This solidifies Senator Durbin's hold on the Rest of the Story's 2011 Hypocrisy of the Year Award.