Tobacco Companies Criticized for Anti-50 Deception

The Willamette Week is less than pleased by the newspaper's inclusion in a recent Anti-Measure 50 advertisement, stating that the tobacco companies quoted the WW out of context:

Among the barrage of tobacco-financed TV ads against Measure 50 is one that would lead viewers to believe WW has come out against the proposed 84.5-cent tax increase on a pack of smokes.

The ad (posted below) boils down the following paragraph:

The real loser is less clear to all but a few Ivory Tower academics, some of whom might otherwise back the health-care goals of Measure 50. It’s that little, you know, sacred document, yadda yadda, known as the Oregon Constitution.

to read "The real loser is ... the Oregon Constitution."

Ah, the magic of the ellipsis. Yes, we do have concerns about enshrining this tax policy in the state constitution. But they're outweighed, as we wrote here in this endorsement FOR Measure 50 by what the money would do: raise cash to provide health insurace for Oregon's uninsured kids. And we like that a higher tax would reduce smoking.

The WW is joined by the Lewis and Clark Law School, which a week after calling out Measure 49 opponents for a deceptive mailer is now upset at its inclusion in an anti-50 advertisement:

Lewis & Clark College today called on an anti-Measure 50 political action group to amend its new television ads to make clear that Lewis & Clark Law School did not endorse its position.

“The law school takes no official position on this or any other ballot measure,” Law School Dean Robert Klonoff said. “The opponents of Measure 50 who are improperly using the law school name to further their cause must stop this activity immediately.”

Like the anti-Measure 49 mailing, the anti-50 commercials cite James Huffman, former law school dean and current professor, and his opposition to the given measure. Numerous voters have expressed concern about the implication that Huffman’s opinion represents the Law Schools’ official position.

“In fact,” Klonoff said, “this law school has no official position on the merits of Measure 50. Professor Huffman, like all our faculty members, is free to speak his mind on political matters. But no one should mistake his personal views with my views or the view of this institution.

“Fair debate requires that all participants represent their ideas with integrity and sincerity,” Klonoff said. “The misuse of our name for partisan political purposes violates that fundamental principle. It is deeply troublesome that these groups would mislead voters in an attempt to garner support on these controversial issues.”

Read the rest from the Willamette Week and the Lewis and Clark Law School.


  • j_luthergoober (unverified)

    Only reason I voted for it; make the liars pay...

    Oregonians still need to look at themselves in the mirror and say why am I burdening the care of all Oregon children on a few addicts. 50 is without a doubt the biggest NIMBY statement to date. Say Beaverstaters, what happens to childrens' healthcare when all resident smokers die?

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    Say Beaverstaters, what happens to childrens' healthcare when all resident smokers die?

    M50 is crassly calculated to insure that doesn't happen. At least not as a result of M50.

  • Craig Winters (unverified)

    The tax is one of the most fair and justified taxes that exists.

    Smoking externalizes lots of costs, including second hand smoke, some pollution, smelliness, and burdens on the health care system. It is completely fair, and even necessary, for communities to force some measure of those costs to be internalized by the market players so that the market can work. Then consumers can make their choices with some portion of the social costs included, and products can be priced accordingly. Of course, addicts will continue to smoke, and they lack full market choice, but they can reduce their smoking a touch, which over a year alleviates the cost increase. And for younger smokers, many will never start. This is an example of a "Pigouvian" tax which, along with progressive taxation generally, is the most fair taxation there is.

    Those taxes can then pay to alleviate those concomitant social costs. Like health care for kids for instance. Bottom line: Measure 50 is a good law.

    As for Willamette Week, their growing penchant for snarkiness and nattering nabobery of negativism risks hurting the State. They seem forget that their words can be publised by others and used as cudgels. It seems to be a growing culture over there.

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    Say Beaverstaters, what happens to childrens' healthcare when all resident smokers die?

    The overall costs of healthcare drop by more than what the tax brought in.

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    The overall costs of healthcare drop by more than what the tax brought in.

    So the parents of those 114,000 uninsured kids will then be able to afford to buy insurance?

  • Pete (unverified)

    I doubt that I'm the only one who is sick and tired of tobacco company lies and deception. At least a couple of times during this campaign they've been caught using questionable tactics. That and the fact that they're spending record amounts of out of state cash to buy votes makes the anti 50 campaign look very unattractive. And besides that Measure 50 will help quite a large number of uninsured poor kids. I'll be voting Yes on 50.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Kevin | Oct 31, 2007 1:55:39 PM So the parents of those 114,000 uninsured kids will then be able to afford to buy insurance?

    Given the hypothetical and insurance costs reflected the loss of the drain on coverage that smokers cause, yes, many could.

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    many could.

    And those that couldn't?

  • SallyC (unverified)

    Given the hypothetical and insurance costs reflected the loss of the drain on coverage that smokers cause, yes, many could.

    Percentage of adult population who smoked in 1968: 60% Percentage of adult population who smoke in 2007: 18%

    Let's also remember that people smoked in hospitals, airplanes, theaters, airports, offices, and most other places. Now smoking is prohibited from almost everywhere - something I agree w/.

    Has insurance gotten cheaper? Or do insurance companies simply pocket bigger profits?

    People will pass this because it costs them nothing or they can feel good about getting healthcare to kids or because there's no alternative.

    That doesn't mean everyone will agree with the method used to finance it even if they agree w/ the goals.

  • SallyC (unverified)

    To get back to the original topic, I doubt many people take any political ads at face value anymore.

    I think most people are skeptical of advetisements by large corporations or politicians.

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    Having talked to a lot of voters lately about Measure 49, I can confirm that political advertising works with many people.

    OIA's strategy: Repeat lie, repeat lie, repeat lie, hear voter say "isn't Measure 49 the one where they can take your property?"

    Many people don't invest much time in figuring out politics and measures. That's why ballot measures aren't a good reflection of the electorate's true wants (for example, 90+% of Oregonians support labeling genetically modified foods, but the measure to do so was voted down because of ads and scare tactics).

    So, yes, some voters are skeptical of such ads, but don't get your hopes too high. When they're confused, they vote no.

  • James X. (unverified)

    Well, that is what Beth Slovic said, and in a story titled "Lighting Up The Constitution." They can't object to it now after publishing it then.

  • (Show?)

    Yep, don't you know WW's new slogan that goes with their new Enron-inspired logo & crowded redesign: "Willamette Week: We are not too clever by half; we're not too clever at all."

    The tobacco tax isn't going to end smoking. It will deter some smoking, but not as much as if it were dedicated to supporting smoking cessation and to preventing smoking. The remaining 18%, who smoke in the face of all the drawbacks people know and point out, are largely the most addicted.

    The tax is estimated to provide insurance for 94,000 of the roughly 117,000 uninsured Oregon kids, for a total of 95% nominally insured (currently insured plus new). I say nominally because the quality & utility of extant insurance is highly variable. It is not clear whether the 117,000 includes uninsured Oregon kids who cannot prove citizenship, since such kids are explicitly excluded from coverage.

    Both the idea that the tax will end smoking, and the idea that reduced general "public health costs" of smoking, if it were miraculously eliminated, would make insurance affordable to many families who can't afford it now, are completely laughable.

    Pass or fail, after M50 we should work to shift funding of SB3 to regular revenue by increasing the progressivity of the income tax within the context of HB329, and dedicate the tobacco tax to smoking cessation and prevention.

  • Admiral Naismith (unverified)


    <h2>What did you expect from them? The truth?</h2>
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