Anti-smoking advocates are calling on Iowa’s United States Senators to block a large federal payout to the tobacco companies. They say taxpayers shouldn’t be expected to prop up an industry that has killed millions. At issue is a bill approved in the House that sends a $10 Billion payment to the cigarette-makers to buy out struggling tobacco farmers. Carlyn Crowe, president of “Tobacco Free Iowa,” says that buyout was supposed to be coupled with a bill that gives the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products. She says without the FDA component it’s just a sweetheart deal for cigarette makers. Crowe says this bill does nothing to protect public health. Instead of making tobacco companies pay, she says it’s going to cost taxpayers of Iowa and the nation as much as $ 10 Billion. Crowe says Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin have both spoken out against the house buyout plan. But she says they’ll will be pressured to approve the bill anyway because it has other provisions they both support. Crowe believes more public outcry would strengthen our senators’ resolve…and she’s getting back-up from the president of Iowa’s youth-led anti-tobacco group, Thomas Oldham. Oldham calls it “amazing” that Congress would consider a plan to help Big Tobacco, as he says all the industry’s ever given us was “death, disease and lies.” Oldham says if Congress would grant the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco, they could stop manufacturers from marketing to kids and could ban candy cigarettes. The US Senate will consider the tobacco buyout plan when it reconvenes after July 6th.
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