Leaders of a statewide anti-smoking campaign are incensed by a last-minute powerplay in the Iowa Legislature. An item snuck into a budget bill gets rid of the penalties for tobacco companies which give t-shirts and other promotional items to kids. While such “freebies” are still against the law, there is no penalty. The Senate also struck down an idea which had won approval in both the Senate and House: banning cigarette company freebies for adults. Cathy Calloway is President of “Tobacco-Free Iowa,” the group formed to lobby on smoking issues. Calloway says it just shows how powerful the tobacco company’s lobbyists are. Calloway says there may be a ray of hope for her side, though, as the tobacco settlement restricts giveaways to areas where adults are. Calloway says the effort may come back to haunt the tobacco company lobbyists, though. She says some lawmakers are saying the tobacco lobbyists may’ve violated the provisions of the tobacco settlement.Calloway says when the legislature convenes in 2001, her group will press lawmakers to pass a bill banning free samples and promotional merchandise give-aways from tobacco companies.
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