Opinion

? Bialick: ‘Big Tobacco’ is blowing smoke

Author: Pete Bialick - October 31, 2016 - Updated: October 29, 2016

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Pete Bialick
Pete Bialick

Big Tobacco knows that if people smoke one less cigarette a day they will lose billions of dollars. So it is no surprise that out of state tobacco companies are spending more than $16 million dollars here (more than the casinos spent keeping racetrack betting in Colorado) to try to defeat Amendment 72 through a barrage of negative and misleading ads.

Ten years ago, Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that ten tobacco industry defendants had violated civil racketeering laws due to decades-long, industry-wide conspiracy to deceive the American public about the harmful effects of tobacco use and their knowledge of those dangers. Has the industry changed?

Big Tobacco has a history of fighting any legislation that will affect their profits. They have poured millions into opposing local and statewide restrictions on smoking in public places and workplaces, and laws restricting sales of cigarettes to youth. They have opposed every attempt to raise the cigarette tax in Colorado since 1990.

Amendment 72 would help low-income populations quit smoking at a rate four times greater than higher income populations because they are more price sensitive. In addition, some of the crafters of Amendment 72 from Children’s Hospital Colorado, National Jewish, the American Heart Association and lung and cancer associations made sure that the tax revenue would be reinvested in the communities most impacted by smoking, particularly in medically underserved areas in the amount of $34 million. Amendment 72 will also invest in teen mental health at $34 million, veteran services at $48 million, as well as medical research into smoking related diseases at $92 million.

Do you think Big Tobacco cares about targeting low-income populations? According to their internal documents an executive with RJ Reynolds said,  “We don’t smoke that s_ _ _. We just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and stupid.”

Big Tobacco spends $134 million in Colorado each year to market a product that when used as intended causes disease and death. Amendment 72 will help counter Big Tobacco’s efforts and will more than double the amount of funding for Colorado’s tobacco-prevention and cessation program, which are the levels recommended by the Center for Disease Control.

I urge you to vote YES on 72 and help us beat Big Tobacco. Visit HealthyCO2016.com to get the facts you will not hear from Big Tobacco.

Pete Bialick

Pete Bialick

Pete Bialick is the president of the Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution (GASP) of Colorado.