TOBACCO: Senator Slams HUD for Okaying ‘Smoke Shops’
The Department of Housing and Urban Development came under fire yesterday for its approval of $6.5 million for the construction of nine "smoke shops" on Native American reservations, despite efforts by the White House and Congress to curb smoking, the Washington Times reports. A "totally flabbergasted" Sen. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.), chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees HUD's budget, also accused the agency of using defense tactics employed by the tobacco industry. He said, "It's as if HUD took a page right out of the tobacco lawyer handbook. For years, big tobacco companies and their lawyers claimed there was no causal relationship between smoking and cancer, and now HUD uses that same kind of argument." Bond called on HUD to end its funding of smoke shops, which sell millions of cigarettes each year at discount prices, arguing the "subsidies helped increase the risk that children would smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products." But HUD spokesperson David Egner said the department "cannot ban the sale of legal products in businesses getting HUD funding." He added that only Congress has that authority, but warned that such legislation must apply to "every business in the United States that sells, grows or manufactures tobacco products" or risk being discriminatory (Seper, 2/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.