No 'smoke' joke Virginia will ante up $15 million to help a tobacco company study smoking hazards.
Here's a head - scratcher: Philip Morris USA will build a $300 million research and development center in Richmond, Va., that will focus on reducing the hazards of smoking, according to the Associated Press. And, get this, the state of Virginia will kick
There's only one way to reduce the hazards of smoking and that's reducing the smoking. If Philip Morris USA wants to spend $300 million of its money to build an R&D center to come to that conclusion, that's Philip Morris's business.
But tossing in $15 million in public money to the project is mind boggling. State and federal governments just emerged from lawsuits to recoup millions to cover the medical costs incurred for treating smoking related illnesses.
The catch on that suit was that the money had to come from surcharges on the sale of cigarettes. It didn't really amount to any kind of financial penalty to the cigarette makers. The smokers were financing the "penalty" on the tobacco companies.
This latest corporate handout includes free public land for the construction of the center, a 40 percent reduction in real estate taxes for two years and $3 million in federal highway money for road projects.
Philip Morris says the enterprise will eventually employ 500 people. It doesn't offer any wage or benefit packages free smokes, perhaps but it's the jobs that caused Richmond to sweeten the offer.
So, it's come to this pathetic reality. So desperate for an infusion of jobs, government willingly climbs back into bed with the same corporate piranhas it had spent so much time and public money to make suffer for the damage they inflicted on millions.
Here's some sobering R&D to ponder (for free): The center is expected to open sometime in 2007. Between now and then, there will be about 1.25 million funerals, including 5,133 babies, due to smoking.