Big Tobacco gives up the fight

After five days of non-stop (and, I’m sure, very loud) negotiation, a team of state attorneys general from around the country made an amazing announcement: The world’s leading cigarette companies admitted, in both words and dollars, that smoking is deadly.

The tobacco companies agreed to pony up a mind-blowing $368.5 billion (yes, with a “B”) dollars over 25 years to pay for smoking prevention, cessation, health claims, and more. They agreed to change their advertising, promotions, and marketing techniques. (Heck, they probably agreed to wash cars at church fundraisers and buy an annual truckload of Girl Scout cookies, too.)

It seemed like an all-win situation, and it really was. But more remained to be done, thanks in large part to the political clout of the tobacco companies.This week, Congress finally voted to give the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco.

Although I’m no friend of government regulation in general — especially when it comes to things like the wildly destructive and hideously overreaching Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act — this step makes sense. (After all, we’re talking about a product that kills people on a regular basis.)

Happy birthday today to:

  • Swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn (1909)
  • Inventor and automobile pioneer Alexander Winton (1860)
  • Actress Olympia Dukakis (78)
  • Actor Martin Landau (78)
  • Beach Boy Brian Wilson (67)
  • Singer Anne Murray (64)
  • Home repair guru and TV host Bob Vila (63)
  • R&B titan Lionel Ritchie (60)
  • Multi-talented actress Nicole Kidman (42)
  • Spy Kids director and movie innovator Robert Rodriguez (41)

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