On the same day that South Dakota bar and casino owners play stooges to Big Tobacco and submit petitions with 25,000 signatures to delay South Dakota's smoking ban and refer it to public vote in November 2010, President Barack Obama signs a federal anti-smoking law that could deprive Big Tobacco of the chance to brainwash millions of children into becoming addicts over the next couple decades. Among the highlights of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act:
- The Food and Drug Administration finally gets to regulate smokes and chew like any other drug-delivery system.
- The new law bans flavored cigarettes (the kinds that get kids hooked).
- No one can post tobacco ads at sports or entertainment events or within a thousand feet of schools and playgrounds* (here in Madison, that would include One-Stop, MDL, and the Four Corners—no Marlboro banners).
Big Tobacco and its flunkies here in South Dakota may think they won a victory yesterday with the submission of their referendum petitions. Secretary of State Chris Nelson still has to certify the petitions... and with much of the petition drive conducted around bars, it will be interesting to see what percentage of the 25K signatures are thrown out as illegible drunken scrawls. If the petitions have enough valid signatures, the profiteers can celebrate the ability to keep making money off smokes for another year and a half... although I'm still waiting for someone to show me how a smoking ban that affects all bars and restaurants equally would cut into any bar or restaurant owners profits.
But when the South Dakota tobacco lobby woke up this morning and read the paper, they had to be kicking themselves. Instead of piddling around with a smoking referendum in South Dakota, they should have been pushing great anti-nanny-stater Senator Thune for some filibuster juice to stop this new federal law that will hit Big Tobacco where it hurts, in its nefarious youth-marketing strategies.
*I'm having trouble finding this language in the bill text; clarification and/or correction from eager readers is welcome!