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Disagreeing over policy is one thing, but not knowing who’s on what side is inexcusable. In a Sept. 27 news story, Colorado Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald claimed that state Treasurer Mark Hillman’s criticism of the 1998 tobacco settlement put him on the side of big tobacco. The Sentinel questioned her logic in its editorial of Sept. 29 but it should have gone on to note that she was dead wrong on the facts. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Big tobacco does not oppose the settlement. It emphatically supports it. The $246 billion tobacco deal forged a cozy cartel between state governments and major tobacco companies, with the states getting a huge share of tobacco revenues in return for protecting big tobacco from small competitors. As Treasurer Hillman points out in supporting our recently filed lawsuit, this arrangement is an unconstitutional threat to democratic government.
Sen. Fitz-Gerald may be happy about her state’s financial windfall from the tobacco settlement, but as a state leader she should know that the states and big tobacco companies aren’t adversaries here — they’re business partners.