Dealt a severe blow to their egos by the US Supreme Court's
on tobacco advertising last week, Massachusetts Attorney
General Thomas Reilly and antismoking advocates called on the
nation's highest court to "go screw itself." They
urged legislators to pass other measures to abolish cigarette
use, particularly among adolescents. They discussed innovative
ideas such as: cigarette locks; the widespread distribution
of condoms (if the kids are busy having sex, they usually aren't
smoking, are they?); and requiring cigarettes to look like textbooks,
lawnmowers, job applications, and other items abhorrent to teens.
After hearing the news that the high court had overturned state
regulations that restricted tobacco advertising near schools,
Reilly said it's up to Congress now. As he phrased it, ''It's
up to Congress now.''
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the newly installed chairman of
the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensiveness,
offered to take tobacco executives for "a little spin around
Chappaquidick," and called the First Amendment part of
an "extremist, ultra-conservative agenda."
That amendment, which Reilly called ''bad news for children
in Massachusetts,'' was violated by the state's regulations,
which infringed on the tobacco maker's free-speech rights, according
to the Supreme Court. "That damned Constitution thingie
is likely to make restrictions on advertising near schools very
difficult to enact," said Greg Stalagmite, head of the
state Department of Public Health Anti-Unhealthy-Speech Campaign.
Tobacco company representatives praised the ruling, and insisted
that they do not market cigarettes to minors. They said they
were perfectly willing to wait until kids were 18 to addict
them. Besides, the representatives explained, next month would
see the rollout of their new line of tobacco products for pets Fido
No Filters and Meow Menthols that would make the loss of the
teen market irrelevant.
''State and local governments do not have the right to prevent
tobacco companies from presenting truthful advertising about
their products to adult smokers,'' said Phil R. Marshflats,
senior counsel for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Winking, he added:
"And we all know that cigarettes make you both smarter
But Stalagmite said he and other antismoking advocates don't
believe the cigarette makers. ''If the tobacco industry does
not want kids to smoke, why don't they stop selling tobacco?''
queried the dashing young bureaucrat.
Advocates said they would push to curb smoking through other
measures, such as a proposed increase in the state tobacco tax.
They mentioned, in passing, that they would also like to tax
parking that doesn't leave the car straight in the space, wearing
goatees, and talking loudly in movie theaters.
''Now it is more essential than ever to implement successful
strategies to keep children from even starting nasty habits
like these,'' an American Cancer Society of Massachusetts official,
Marc Botulin, said yesterday. "Hey, our fundraising efforts
are falling way short, and I've got a family to feed!"
"We must focus our efforts to wipe out these obnoxious
activities in the areas around our schools. As an important
first step, we succeeded, many years ago, in eliminating all
learning in the vicinity of public schools. Our ultimate goal
is that no one but students and government employees will be
permitted anywhere near these institutions. Let's make these
neighborhoods private-sector-free zones."
Dr. Carole Alias, vice chairentity of the antismoking group
Massachusetts Coalition to Badger Buttheads, urged the state
to continue antismoking ads and educational campaigns. These
ads, she claims, have created a climate of opinion that make
the state the only one in the country to have executed a man
for lighting up in a non-smoking restaurant.
''We know the tobacco industry isn't going to stop targeting
kids,'' said Alias, who is also a high-ranking comrade in the
Young Kennedyites. ''But we have made a lot of progress. We
are one of the few states where youth smoking isn't going up.
The cost of the Big Dig, the incidence of pigeon frightening, and Pedro
Martinez's ERA, they're all going up, but youth smoking, well,
that hasn't budged from where it was before we started this
expensive campaign. I don't think we should lose sight of that.''
A note to readers: If you found Alexander Cockburn's story on the Bohemian
Grove interesting, you might enjoy: http://bohemiangrove.org/.