December 18, 2001

As if beleaguered smokers haven't been persecuted enough by what could be described as the anti-tobacco Taliban movement throughout the country, Donna Grande and Thomas P. Houston, co-directors of the Smokeless States National Tobacco Policy Initiative of the American Medical Association, are piling-on in the most opportunistic, dreadful way.

According to their December 17, 2001 statement, the "SS" NTPI is proposing more taxes on tobacco to offset state budget shortfalls. They say, "Meeting the enormous financial strain of the war on terrorism and the recession demands smart, pragmatic action from state legislators. Increasing excise taxes on tobacco products would help each state meet its obligations by generating significant new revenue and preventing children from starting to smoke."

It is well known that the states have spent $billions in tobacco taxes and settlement funds on everything but smoking related problems. And it is also well known that most smokers are those who can least afford these punishing taxes. But it's blatantly unconscionable for arrogant do-gooders like Rob Reiner's California Proposition 10 and the Smokeless States directors to propose more unconstitutional thievery, using children as the excuse, while the loot is used elsewhere.

Indeed, it's even more unconscionable that legal rights defenders like the courts, the cowardly ACLU, and even elected representatives, have remained mute in the face of these injustices, simply because smoking is unpopular. Maybe it's time for the nation's 60 million smokers to stand up for themselves for a change, at least by getting out to vote against tyranny.

Daniel B. Jeffs, founder
The Direct Democracy Center