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Mike Pence Compared Health Risks Of Tobacco To Candy In 1997 Op-Ed

“But, Mike, [you might say] you can’t compare candy and cigarettes. Oh, can’t I?"

Posted on July 18, 2016, at 5:27 p.m. ET

Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Donald Trump's running mate Mike Pence wrote an op-ed in 1997 equating the health risks associated with cigarettes with those associated with candy.

Pence, who was a conservative radio host in Indiana at the time, was defending the tobacco industry, which had been successfully sued by some states to recoup medical expenses related to tobacco. The settlement also limited the tobacco industry from engaging in certain marketing practices.

Pence's op-ed came two years before he wrote "smoking doesn't kill," in an editorial uncovered by BuzzFeed News in 2015.

"The premise of the suit is quite creative. States are suing tobacco companies to recover the increased health care expenses incurred by Medicaid and Medicare programs from the use of cigarettes," writes Pence. "Sounds reasonable enough. If states have to bear the cost of health care for the poor and elderly, states should be able to collect from companies that contribute to bad health. The state of Indiana should have the power to recover damages from any company whose products cause an additional drain on the state’s limited healthcare resources cigarettes certainly qualify but what about candy?"

"Seriously, lung cancer claims too many lives but the numbers are inconsequential compared to the death toll related to heart disease," continues Pence. "According to recent numbers, heart disease is still the number one killer in the world. What is the main cause of heart disease? Obesity. What single product, when used properly, contributes more to obesity than any other product in America? Candy!"

Pence goes on to compare M&Ms to cigarettes, but says he thinks it would be ridiculous to sue candy companies the way people sue cigarette companies.

"Is advertising for candy not targeted to the youth of America," writes Pence. "Those M&M guys are virtually as famous as Mickey Mouse. Is eating candy not a powerful personal habit that some find impossible to overcome while others are able to consume in moderation or refrain altogether? Does candy consumption not place an enormous added cost on our health care economy? Isn’t it time that the State of Indiana sued Big Candy?

"Of course not. That would be ridiculous. People choose to eat candy. People should be responsible for their personal choices. Our government was not established for the purpose of eradicating bad personal habits. Our government was instituted to protect life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. That cigarette suit is a great idea but I don’t know what I was thinking about on the candy deal."

Here's a picture and full text of the op-ed, which ran in the Indianapolis Star.

Recently Indiana Attorney General Jeff Modisett Jeff Modisett joined colleagues from 22 states in Dallas, Texas to negotiate the settlement of a class action lawsuit filed against Big Tobacco.

The premise of the suit is quite creative. States are suing tobacco companies to recover the increased health care expenses incurred by Medicaid and Medicare programs from the use of cigarettes.

Sounds reasonable enough. If states have to bear the cost of health care for the poor and elderly, states should be able to collect from companies that contribute to bad health.

The state of Indiana should have the power to recover damages from any company whose products cause an additional drain on the state’s limited healthcare resources

Cigarettes certainly qualify but what about candy?

Seriously, lung cancer claims too many lives but the numbers are inconsequential compared to the death toll related to heart disease. According to recent numbers, heart disease is still the number one killer in the world. What is the main cause of heart disease? Obesity. What single product, when used properly, contributes more to obesity than any other product in America? Candy!

“But, Mike, [you might say] you can’t compare candy and cigarettes.”

Oh, can’t I?

Is advertising for candy not targeted to the youth of America? Those M&M guys are virtually as famous as Mickey Mouse. Is eating candy not a powerful personal habit that some find impossible to overcome while others are able to consume in moderation or refrain altogether? Does candy consumption not place an enormous added cost on our health care economy? Isn’t it time that the State of Indiana sued Big Candy?

Of course not. That would be ridiculous. People choose to eat candy. People should be responsible for their personal choices. Our government was not established for the purpose of eradicating bad personal habits. Our government was instituted to protect life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.

That cigarette suit is a great idea but I don’t know what I was thinking about on the candy deal.


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