I’m certain the kneejerk reaction of conservatives who monitor my site is there goes another liberal pouncing on the tobacco industry. It is not their products, but how Reynolds American uses the profits they derive to harm America that motivated me. I actually accept much of the conservative argument that tobacco is a legal product in our society and Americans should have the freedom of choice to decided whether they partake of it or not. In the spirits of full disclosure, I am an ex-smoker who quit back in the late 1970’s.
Reynolds American is a holding company whose largest component is the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. which is the result of a merger of the old Brown & Williamson and R. J. Reynolds. Add to that, the American Snuff Co., LLC; Sante Fe Natural Tobacco Co., Inc.; and Niconovum, AB and you have the current configuration. Their product lineup includes: Camel, Pall Mall, Winston, Salem, Doral, Kool, Misty, Capri, Camel Snus, Grizzly, Kodiak, Cougar, Levi Garrett, Taylor’s Pride, H.B. Scott’s, Hawken, Garrett Scotch, Garrett Sweet, Honest Scotch, Dental Scotch, Dental Sweet, Peach Sweet, Tube Rose, Natural American Spirit and most interestingly Zonnic. All are tobacco products with the exception of Zonnic which is a stop smoking aid. In my mind, this is similar to the consumer credit reporting agencies selling services that monitor their activities for consumers as a safeguard against them reporting false information. Somehow neither passes the smell test.
The real issue with Reynolds American is the assignment they have given their Vice President of State and Government Relations, David Power. The fancy title notwithstanding, Power is a lobbyist – in fact he is actually registered as such. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with the tobacco industry lobbying governments. It is how Power goes about it as he represents Reynolds American that I have a problem with.
Power sits on the Board of Directors of A.L.E.C.’s Private Enterprise Board, serving as its Treasurer. The American Legislative Exchange Council, (A.L.E.C.), is a bill writing mill for Republican legislators. Ever notice how similar zany legislation is from one red state to another? A.L.E.C. is the reason why. They provide templates where legislators just have to fill in the blanks. This reminds me of Grover Norquist’s 2012 statement: “We just need a President to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it.”
In 2011 the North Carolina State Legislature fell into Republican control for the first time in over a century. Almost immediately the legislature appointed Power to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. The Board of Governors oversees all 17 campuses in the State university system. Power and his masters are typical conservatives who do not believe in equal access to quality public education. This was similar to George W. Bush making John Bolton the U. N. ambassador – Bolton is a U.N. hater. For years North Carolina has had the best public education system in the South. Conservatives, led by Art Pope and his money, have been trying to destroy it. They feel that only the offspring of those who have achieved the requisite level of financial success are entitled to a quality education.
Use tobacco products if you will. That is an entirely different issue. Just don’t buy the brands listed here. If you do you are helping finance the decline of American society.
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