Dori: Once again, WA gets an F in tobacco prevention, thanks to politicians
If someone came up to me and said, “Dori, your contract at KIRO Radio is up at the end of the year. You’re doing well, KIRO will probably re-sign you, but we could get you a tiny, tiny better chance of a new contract. It probably won’t change anything, but we can get you that chance. The only tradeoff is, a bunch of kids will eventually get cancer and die of it.”
Would I take that job? Of course not. Of course no moral person with a brain would take that deal.
Do you want to know why I’m so cynical about politics? There are politicians in this state, like former Governor Christine Gregoire, who would take that deal — a tiny chance of getting elected, or re-elected, but in exchange, kids will get cancer.
The American Lung Association just rated every state on tobacco prevention and cessation funding, and on access to cessation services. Washington got an F in these categories. We are one of the worst states in the country for tobacco prevention and cessation. Why are we flunking?
When Christine Gregoire was the attorney general 20 years ago, she and other attorneys general filed a $206 billion lawsuit against the tobacco industry. She said that if they won the lawsuit, they would take Washington’s $4 billion share of the settlement, create a special fund, and put the money toward tobacco cessation and prevention programs.
But Christine Gregoire is a politician. And politicians care about power and money more than anything else. There are very few politicians who care about you and me. And so, the billions of dollars that we got from the tobacco industry were reallocated.
When Christine Gregoire was governor, the Democrats in the Legislature decided to put that money in the general fund, to give big government payouts to the labor unions and special interest groups that got them elected.
And so you see my metaphor for the tradeoff was very real. The politicians knew they could put those billions into helping people quit — or never consider starting — smoking, or they could spend the money on special interests to get a tiny chance of being re-elected.
This is exactly what politicians do all the time. They could have made Washington the best state in the country when it comes to tobacco prevention. Gregoire vowed that she would make Washington the best state for tobacco prevention.
But when politicians see money, it’s like the Seattle drug addicts seeing heroin. Gregoire was already likely to be elected and re-elected governor, but she wanted to solidify her chances with this money.
And so, the state that was at the vanguard of this lawsuit, the state that was supposed to be the best in this country for standing up to cigarettes, decided that it could tolerate more kids taking up smoking, eventually getting cancer, and dying a horrible, painful death, all because the politicians wanted to use that money to further their political careers.
I find it to be so immoral, the insatiable thirst for power among our politicians. The day you are elected to Congress, you are on the phone trying to raise money for two years from now for your re-election. It’s all that matters. And so, this American Lung Association report paints a grim picture, and reminds us of what politicians here are all about.