Torkelson votes support Big Tobacco

To the editor:

Why did Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) vote for the big tobacco companies and against the health of our children? Along with other Republicans, he voted at least twice to follow the wishes of Big Tobacco to freeze the cigarette tax, which has the effect of lowering that tax over time. The cigarette industry must continually recruit new smokers to replace the smokers that their product kills off. We know that high cigarette taxes deter young people from starting to smoke. High cigarette taxes also encourage smokers to stop. No wonder that Big Tobacco wanted this legislation in order to protect its future profits.

On May 25, 2017, Torkelson voted along with other Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives to freeze the cigarette tax and lower the tax on premium cigars from $3.50 to fifty cents [House File-1, Article 9, at page 45]. This is a profit versus human life issue, and they chose profit.

Follow the money. The June 10, 2017 edition of the West Central Tribune of Willmar reported that one cigarette company, Altria, the parent of Phillip Morris, alone spent nearly $500,000 last year on lobbying in Minnesota, including payments of $75, 000 to one Republican-affiliated group.

This is a moral issue. Remember how well your representatives represented your values when you vote in 2018.

John H. Burns