In 2009 Texas lawmakers decided to tax smokeless tobacco by weight rather than volume. This raised the taxes causing sales in Texas to drop by 50% (stats courtesy of those most concerned with plummeting sales, the makers of the Redman Chewing tobacco, apparently the number one brand).

Less chewing tobacco is good because it causes head and neck, esophageal, and pancreatic cancer. Less chewing tobacco in Texas is particularly good as they have the highest rate of people without health insurance in the country.

Of course state Rep. Ritter (R) decided that chewing tobacco was actually good for Texans (silly old National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society, and head and neck surgeons everywhere, what do you know?) and introduced Bill 2599 to drop the smokeless tobacco tax by 0.33 cents an ounce. Because apparently the GOP want more Texans to have head and neck cancer. Rep. Ritter is actually quoted as saying Bill 2599 is “good” for “all of us who want to have chemotherapy, radiation, and a radical neck dissection” “all of us that chew tobacco.”

The bill is still pending in committee.

The good folks at Lobby Watch – Texans for Public Justice (just my kind of Texans, I might add), decided to do a little digging to see which Texas politicians were on the receiving end of smokeless tobacco money. And the number one favorite son, why Rick Perry, of course.

Between lobbying and campaign contributions, the smokeless tobacco industry funneled a total of $117,802 to Governor Perry from January 2009 through December 2010. Only the state Republican party got more.

I wonder if Perry will veto the bill? (okay, I’ve stopped laughing and have picked myself up off of the floor).

So here’s the thing, Perry is pro-life. How is creating more head and neck cancer pro-life? I mean that seems pretty hypocritical. If you are pro-life, then shouldn’t the lives of Texans who could die from smokeless tobacco related cancers matter a great deal? Isn’t the higher smokeless tobacco tax legislation actually pro-life, because that means fewer carcinogens sold? And of course if all life is sacred, then Perry shouldn’t be taking a dime from tobacco companies.

It is ridiculous that reporters allow this kind of hypocrisy to continue. Life is either sacred, or it isn’t. Not that I’m a religious scholar (far from it), but I spent my share of time listening to Anglican sermons. My recollection is that Jesus was pretty big on including everyone in the whole love thing.

You just can’t be pro-life and pro-tobacco (smokeless or otherwise). Unless, of course, you think that some lives have less value.

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  1. Oh, come on, Doc, do you really think Mr. Perry cares about the evidence of the increased risks for all those cancers from smokeless tobacco? (I wonder if he would even understand the epidemiology of it all if it was presented to him?) It’s perfectly human to look at the here and now and worry about the consequences later. Why should Mr. Perry be any different?

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