Friday, October 13, 2006


Those cancer sticks are causing more trouble than they’re worth. Okay, obvious to suggest they’re not worth much in the general scheme, unless you’re a major stockholder or beneficiary of Altria, Reynolds American or any other major corporation with tobacco interests. But for some candidates, the lack of movement on anti-tobacco legislation during past sessions might turn out to be an expensive choice.

I’m not a fan of tobacco taxes for the simple reason that they are regressive and smokers are not price sensitive. Sure teenagers won’t start, but regular smokers have a hard time giving up the habit at any price making it burdensome to low income smokers. I know most middle class non-smokers have no sympathy, but I’m just thinking of the kid in exploding wet diapers with a parent that can’t afford the habit and a larger supply of baby products.

I will say that it’s good to see a little bend on the issue of local tobacco ordinances. Both Nussle & Culver support local control of public smoking, which is not a bad thing. Reported in the WCFCourier:

Iowa's two major party candidates for governor agreed Wednesday that local governments should have the final say in whether they ban smoking in local establishments.

Iowa cities currently are prohibited from implementing smoking bans, and the issue has been a contentious one at the State Capitol in recent years.

GOP candidate for governor Jim Nussle said at a health care forum at Drake University he thought local governments should have the authority to decide.

"I would suggest that we allow local areas of control to determine whether or not smoking goes on in their public establishments --- restaurants and places like that," Nussle said.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver responded that he also favors allowing cities to ban smoking in public places, but not a statewide ban.

"I've been a proponent of local control as secretary of state, and will continue to be for that as governor, so we agree," Culver said. ...

I know the convenient libertarians are all fuming at the idea of allowing anybody but the General Assembly to safe guard our liberty to puff away. But it’s a new day in Iowa GOP politics and Nussle seems to see that the Party needs to listen to a little more common sense. Allowing local control of tobacco smoke doesn’t impinge upon our economic security, as would local control of hog lots, and it will most likely improve the quality of every meal at any Iowa steakhouse.

I appreciate that Nussle is taking a different approach to issues; he's leading Republicans into new territory that seems to be much more in tune with voters. It’s a good sign that if he ends up in Terrace Hill it won’t be the same old Republican game from the last few years.

Economic impact for whom? Last time I checked, if I own a private business I was the one that made the decisions in response to market forces. Oh, I see, were social engineering now. Glad to see that the GOP is taking a page from the pro-red tape regulation Democrats.
And the GOP doesn't pick & choose their social engineering issues? Moreover, this is about what communities want, it's not about a state imposed ban on public smoking, it's each political subdivision balancing public health with individual liberty.

Besides, all it usually takes is the potential for a ban to get private businesses to create their own self regulating policy.
The real question is where they are at on tobacco subsidies. Don't be a squish,if you want to outlaw smoking, then do it. Don't screw around on the edge.
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