May 24th – an “expert panel” at the Institute of Medicine released a “blueprint” on further federal regulation and taxation of tobacco products, among other great ideas. This report was immediately seized upon by advocates supporting pending federal legislation on, what else, expanding government reach by providing FDA Regulation of tobacco products and federally funded healthcare (expanding a federal/state children’s health care program called, “SCHIPS”) via Federal tobacco Excise Tax increases! According to the Research Accountability Project, a coalition of interests advocating transparency in federal expenditures, 6 members of the 14 “expert” IOM panel received $44,426,451.00 in government research grants specific to tobacco, alcohol, media influences and “children” (and over 200 other grants made to other panel members on non-tobacco topics), according to HHS databases, from 1992 to 2006. This is only the KNOWN amount of taxpayer funded research on a limited publicly available database. Some grants had no dollar amounts, so the actual number could be greater Dr. Tom Coburn’s web site legislation, passed last year, will soon fill in the blanks on ALL federal expenditures. Btw… Dr. Glantz quoted below is, according to RAP a recipient of $9.7 million in known federal tobacco research funding, and is one of John Stossel’s perpetrators in his new book, Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity. Get out the Shovel- Why Everything You Know is Wrong, for his alarming early work on Environmental Tobacco Smoke. All this government “expertise” and taxpayer funding assembled to release a “quasi government” report timed – perfectly- to affect government policy! As MasterCard might add, “Priceless”, but it’s not. The “experts” cite declining public attention as a need for the report. What does that mean? I guess since most people might feel that the tobacco industry and downtrodden, declining, demoralized adult smokers have been picked on enough, so this group wants to “rally the troops” for more, bigger government resources dedicated to pick whatever flesh might remain on their bones after the $246 BILLION Master Settlement Agreement. Isn’t it really interesting that this study was “funded” by a public advocacy group funded by the state settlement? The tobacco companies – read: smokers – pay for the settlement and the American Legacy Foundation and they, in turn, cherry pick taxpayer supported “experts” to heap further misery on them? Aren’t there better uses for this “expertise” and government expenditures than to continue, as Jacob Sullum recently coined in Reason magazine, the “Politics of Meddling”? See the whole article on Forbes.com
Amanda Kathryn Hydro is the Director of Policy Development at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.