Coburn: Ban Tobacco
While most GOP lawmakers are opposing legislation to tighten government regulations over the tobacco industry, one outspoken Republican is making statements not often heard from even the most liberal members of Congress. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is pushing an outright tobacco ban. From The Hill:
“What we should be doing is banning tobacco,” Coburn said in a recent Senate floor speech he gave during a debate on a tobacco regulation bill. “Nobody up here has the courage to do that. It is a big business. There are millions of Americans who are addicted to nicotine. And even if they are not addicted to the nicotine, they are addicted to the habit.”
The Senate this week took up legislation, already passed by the House, to empower the Food and Drug Administration to oversee the tobacco industry. Many Republicans are opposed to the bill, arguing that it would cripple the industry and eliminate jobs vital to certain states. But Coburn, a physician, is opposed for different reasons.
Coburn made his case against the bill because he said it would send a mixed message to the FDA, which is charged with ensuring the safety of food and drugs. Coburn’s argument is that there’s nothing safe about tobacco and that it would make more sense for the Drug Enforcement Administration or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to regulate it.
The Senate is expected to pass the bill next week, and President Obama has indicated he’ll sign it into law.