Monday, September 9, 2013

Tobacco Party = Tea Party

The libertarian appeal that if people want to smoke themselves into a cancerous death, let 'em, and public health costs and concerned be damned is both short sighted and foolish.  Follow the money, and it demonstrates a very special kind of smoke and fire.

But libertarian appeals, no matter how superficial or flawed, do appeal to the right wingers, and a close analysis reveals a lot about who is manipulating the short sighted so-called liberty-loving stupid demographic.  By 'stupid', I means specifically those who ignore the costs and damage that smoking does to the nation, both to the national economy and to the national health.

In this regard, the Minnesota hike in cigarette tax was one of the most progressive and insightful, long-term looking decisions made in our legislative history.  The CDC has done some more general assessments of the costs of smoking to the country, positing an estimated cost of $193 BILLION (yes, billion with a 'b') nationwide, but also calculating that the costs to employers is $3,077.00 in smoke break lost productivity, per employee, plus additional costs, per NPR:
Other costs include more sick days due to health problems, at $517 per smoker, and $462 a year for lower productivity while working because of withdrawal symptoms, which kick in within 30 minutes of that last drag.
In spite of all the pressures - like our Minnesota tax hike on cigarettes - there remains a strong conservative pro-tobacco movement, in the guise of the Tea Party.  A study published last June outlines the money links to the astro-turfed movement.  The Tea Party exists because manipulating the gullible is profitable for those who shelled out the big bucks over the years. The Tea Party has been defined as a movement of angry old white people who are politically naive, which makes them ripe for such exploitation.  Remember how the Tobacco Industry lied, for years, about the addictive properties of nicotine and about their efforts to increase it in tobacco products? Yeah, the Tea Party is their creation, and it should come as no surprise, in that context, that they oppose health care reform or the provision of health care to Americans generally. They have a vested interest in making people sick, not well.  It should come as no surprise either that the Tea Party has seen some of their most aggressive activity in tobacco growing states like North Carolina, or in states with high tobacco product use.

From UC San Francisco:

Study: Tea Party Organizations Have Ties To Tobacco Industry Dating Back To 1980s

Nonprofit Tea Party Groups Promote Pro-Tobacco Agenda, Say Researchers

“Nonprofit organizations associated with the Tea Party movement have longstanding ties to tobacco companies, and continue to advocate on behalf of the tobacco industry’s anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda,” said senior author Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education (CTCRE) and a UCSF professor of medicine and American Legacy Foundation Distinguished Professor in Tobacco Control.
Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control ResearchStanton A. Glantz, PhD, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education
The study, which appears on Feb. 8 in the journal Tobacco Control, shows that rhetoric and imagery evoking the 1773 Boston Tea Party were used by tobacco industry representatives as early as the 1980s as part of an industry-created “smokers’ rights’’ public relations campaign opposing increased cigarette taxes and other anti-smoking initiatives.
From previously secret tobacco industry documents available at the UCSF Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, IRS filings and other publicly available documents, the study authors traced a decades-long chain of personal, corporate and financial relationships between tobacco companies, tobacco industry lobbying and public relations firms and nonprofit organizations associated with the Tea Party.
The research uncovered the tobacco industry’s ongoing opposition to health care reform, dating back to a major campaign waged against President Bill Clinton’s proposed 75-cent cigarette tax to help finance it.
“Tea party symbolism is nothing new for cigarette companies and their allies, which for many years have been cynically using a hallowed symbol of American freedom in order to advance their own interests,” said co-author Rachel Grana, PhD, a CTCRE fellow.
The UCSF researchers sounded a call for greater transparency of organization funding “so that policymakers and the general public – including people who identify with the Tea Party – can evaluate claims of political support for, and opposition to, health and other public policies.’’
The Role of Citizens for a Sound Economy
In 2002, before the mainstream media widely discussed Tea party politics, Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), a nonprofit funded in part by cigarette companies since 1987 to support a pro-tobacco political agenda, started its US Tea Party project. Its website stated “Our US Tea Party is a national event, hosted continuously online and open to all Americans who feel our taxes are too high and the tax code is too complicated.’’
In 2004, CSE split into the Tea Party organizations Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and Freedom Works. Those two groups, say the authors, have since waged campaigns to turn public opinion against tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and health care reform in general.
Tea Party Logo
“If you look at CSE, AFP and Freedom Works, you will see a number of the same key players, strategies and messages going back to the 1980s,” said lead author Amanda Fallin, PhD, RN, also a CTCRE fellow. “The records indicate that the Tea Party has been shaped by the tobacco industry, and is not a spontaneous grassroots movement at all.”
While it is well known that corporations can influence policy, the study “demonstrates the extent to which a particular industry has leveraged its resources to indirectly affect public policy,’’ the authors write. “The tobacco companies funded one of the main Tea Party predecessor organizations, CSE, as well as other conservative organizations…to support the companies’ broader economic and political agendas.’’
The researchers also warn of the Tea Party’s efforts to push its political agenda in other countries, pointing out that the Tea Party movement has begun to spread internationally, with Freedom Works training activists in 30 countries including Israel, Georgia, Japan, Nigeria and Serbia. The international expansion “makes it likely’’ that Tea Party organizations will mount opposition to tobacco control and other health policies “as they have done in the United States,’’ the authors wrote.
“Tobacco control advocates in the United States and around the world need to be very aware of the connections between Big Tobacco and the Tea Party movement and its associated organizations,” Glantz said.

The Tobacco Industry Tea Partiers want to spread the sickness, the addiction, and to intervene in any political way that makes that easier. Because they have no moral compunction at making money by making people sick; that their rational uses the word freedom to peddle addiction is a measure of how lacking in morals and values they really are.  The Tea Party is neither grass-roots in origin, or self-directive in politics; and it sure as hell is not about liberty, the founding fathers, or the U.S. Constitution.  Rather, it is about profits, for the few, at the expense of the many, no matter what the damage or the costs, in lives or dollars, or the morality of manipulating the elderly demographic with scare tactics and lies. GOP & the Tea Party = Tobacco & Exploitation

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