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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Sympathy for the devil

Want to know why the Massachusetts Republican Party is starting to resemble a dinosaur? How about legislation aimed at helping to sell more cigarettes?

A Republican-sponsored amendment stuck inside the Massachusetts Senate's corporate tax reform law would eliminate a minimum pricing law tacked on in 1945. Opponents say it would negate the cost of the $1 per pack planned cigarette tax increase and keep prices on a par with butts sold in New Hampshire.

Helping the convenience stores along the border? That's their story and they're sticking to it.

The Herald explains:

The pricing law now dictates that a pack of Marlboros, for example, cannot be sold in the Bay State for less than $4.97 - or a store owner faces a $500 fine. If minimum pricing is flicked away, prices could mirror New Hampshire, where the same pack sells for about $3.75, and no rules or fines apply.

Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei says his idea is simply to "end corporate welfare" by repealing an archaic rule that helped tobacco companies. He doesn't think it will do much of anything because said federal anti-trust and predatory pricing laws prevent retailers from selling cigarettes below cost.

Not so, says Kevin O’Flaherty, director of advocacy for the Northeast Region’s Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, who says young potential smokers are the ones most sensitive to pricing.
“(The) amendment actually benefits the tobacco companies - not public health.”
So, does the GOP strategy to attract new voters include luring young voters by making smoking more attractive? It would certainly compensate for the loss the party has seen from supporters dying from lung cancer.

We know where this idea should go during conference. But if you stuff paper down those skinny smoking troughs will it fit -- and will it catch fire when the ashes hit?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think that you have this one wrong. Why should the commonwealth of massachusetts protect tabacco companies? The minimum pricing guarentees them extra profits. This law was passed in 1945 to protect tabacco companies profits and it is an outrage that it is still on the books in Massachusetts!

May 10, 2008 11:49 PM  

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