Anti-smoking lobby exemplifies bed-partner politics

I respectfully disagree with Sen. John Marty’s (D-Roseville) assessment regarding the defeat of the fire-safe cigarette legislation (“Tobacco lobby crushes fire safety measure,” Oct. 9).

The senator implied the committee hearings were flooded by tobacco “spooks” opposing the legislation. The hearings were televised for all to see and I believe the senator’s “pants are on fire.”

Testimony opposing the legislation came from one person at both hearings, a lone attorney from Washington, D.C., who was representing RJ Reynolds, Lorillard, Brown and Williamson but not Philip Morris (makers of Marlboro and Merit cigarettes).

Merit cigarettes were presented at the hearing as the new fire-retardant cigarette. Testimony given by state fire marshal Tom Brace reiterated the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s conclusion, “There is no such thing as a fire-safe cigarette.” In Philip Morris’s own words, “Cigarettes made with Paper Select trademark paper are not fire-safe.”

Philip Morris’ Marlboro was presented as a non-fire-safe cigarette. An amendment was offered to include cigars, but Rep. Dennis Ozment, R-Cannon Falls, fired back that cigars are not known to start fires. They are only after cigarettes – which leaves the impression of a Philip Morris infomercial, which of course would be the big winner with their political promotion of fire-safe Merits.

To promote a new image, Philip Morris has made an unholy alliance with government-funded anti-tobacco activists much like Smith and Wesson’s alliance with anti-gunners in Washington. The ire of the customer backlash will affect these corporations for years to come. Philip Morris will fetch the ball for the Food and Drug Administration, which now wants to regulate tobacco.

The Senator is right when he writes the hearing rooms were full, though not of pro-tobacco people, but rather the usual public-funded anti-tobacco industry, such as the Minnesota Smoke Free Coalition (which is exclusively funded out of the Minnesota Department of Health, which lobbied Marty to introduce the legislation). Ozment, a retired fireman and the member of the Minnesota Professional Firefighters Association co-authored the House version of the bill. Which, by the way, does not rate the approval of the Minnesota Charities Review Council.

The firefighters association spokesman’s testimony was ignorant and nonsensical as he blurted out the recipe for a timed delay fuse for criminals wanting to commit arson – how to start a fire and make a clean getaway before the fire gets started. Of course, one of the components would be a lit cigarette. The injuries and deaths that occurred could be put on record as “smoking-related” and used as cause for more redundant legislation.

My opposition is not the safety and well-being of our firefighters, but the “wolf call” of public safety issues to promote other agendas. Firefighting is the most dangerous occupation civil servants provide. Seventy-five firemen are killed or injured for every one police officer. One million of Minnesota’s smokers/citizens are offended by the proponents of the fire-safe cigarette legislation with the innuendo we wantonly kill our firemen and nonsmokers.

As long as the public-funded activists and nonprofits have millions of our dollars available to lobby for a government-cornerstone, danger-proof, totally safe, nanny society, and our huge Legislature has the time to carry water for them, maybe it’s time for a unicameral government.

In the guise of public safety, let’s legislate a fireproof match or a safe and healthy bullet. Twenty-six citizens of Chicago were killed as a result of being beaten with a baseball bat. Let’s work on a safer bat.

In the meantime, Marty should pull in his anti-smoking horns and stop using the tragedy in New York to promote anti-smoking in the name of heroic public servants. We expect more from a state senator.


Archie Anderson is a member of Forces Minnesota, an organization funded exclusively by smokers. Send comments to [email protected]