Exploring Human Potential

Kudos to Ed Hill, John Seffrin and Sharon Eubanks

Posted on | March 27, 2007 | Comments Off on Kudos to Ed Hill, John Seffrin and Sharon Eubanks

The significant ongoing threat of tobacco (and those who profit from it) continues to define courageous leaders from varying sectors of society and reinforce that Americans can no longer accept what is clearly unacceptable.

In the past two months, three of these courageous leaders have come to the forefront:

1. Ed Hill. Past president of the American Medical Association and proud lifelong citizen of Tupelo, Mississippi. On January 25, 2007, he publicly opposed Governor Haley Barbour, who refused to support an important state-wide health initiative that would have boosted the tax on a pack of cigarettes from 18 cents (the lowest of any state) to 80 cents, while simultaneously lowering Mississippi’s regressive 7% tax on groceries, which especially disadvantages the poor. Dr. Hill characterized the Governor’s low tax on cigarettes, which is proven to encourage poor health and increase the burden of disease, as “subsidized stupidity.” For not mincing works, and saying it loud and clear … Thanks, Ed!

2. John Seffrin. CEO of the American Cancer Society. On March 22, 2007, Dr. Seffrin challenged a March 13, 2007, Wall Street Journal editorial titled “Ted and Henry Camel” that opposed the FDA regulation of tobacco for fear of adversely affecting tobacco industry profits. Dr. Seffrin notes that FDA involvement is “based on a far greater concern (than tobacco profits): the need to protect public health. That is why more than 100 public health and faith-based groups are united in support of the pending legislation in Congress.” For challenging the WSJ and amplifying the truth, that “cigarette manufacturers continue to control an unregulated industry that kills 400,000 Americans each year” … Thanks, John!

3. Sharon Eubanks. Former Justice Department attorney in charge of the government’s racketeering case against the tobacco industry. For the details of what transpired in the final hours of this case and how a $130 billion penalty that would have financed 10 years of national and state tobacco prevention programs evaporated to a mere $10 billion with the help of prosecutors from the Justice Department, check out my 2005 Health Politics piece on the subject. Now some months later, in the wake of the disclosure of the firing of 8 U.S. attorneys after they were unwilling to buckle to political pressure from Washington, and emboldened and empowered, Ms. Eubanks has resurfaced to tell the full story. Under protest, she retired in June 2005. To hear what she has to say, turn to the March 22 Washington Post story on the subject. For telling the truth and setting the record straight and saying out loud that “When decisions are made now … politics is the primary consideration. The rule of law goes out the window” … Thanks, Sharon!


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