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Where there’s smoke, there’s fire: House Speaker Boehner take job with Big Tobacco

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Former Speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner, just landed a new job as a Class II Director of Big Tobacco’s R.J. Reynolds Company. A long-time smoker whose favorite brand of cigarettes seems to be Camel filterless, Boehner will also be serving as a board member of the company’s Corporate Governance, Nominating, and Sustainability Committee. According to recent news reports, R.J. Reynolds solicited Boehner’s help to overcome a period of declining sales revenues largely believed to be attributed to the rise in popularity of vaping technology and other “alternative products.”

Rep. John Boehner and R.J. Reynolds

Part of Boehner’s strategy will involve the design and implementation of several creative marketing campaigns related to the prevention of teen smoking. As many vapers are already well aware, the vaping industry has been in the middle of a years-long smear campaign by Big Tobacco, the FDA, the CDC, and other high-power players who falsely claim that vaping is a gateway to teen smoking. It will be interesting to see how Boenher’s involvement with R.J. Reynolds impacts this ongoing debate. A Boehner spokesperson, Mr. Dave Schnittger, issued the following statement.

“RAI is striving to transform the tobacco industry through innovative strategies that include speeding the decline in tobacco use among young people and reducing the harm caused by smoking. These are objectives Speaker Boehner supports and looks forward to helping RAI advance through his service on the board."

Schnittger’s comment is so perfectly crafted with political rhetoric that he almost makes Boehner’s new employment with Big Tobacco sound noble and honorable. In the many press releases and news stories posted on such highly regarded sites as The Wall Street Journal, NBC News, and CNN, almost all of the reports fail to mention just how deadly tobacco cigarettes truly are. They even seem to commend the former Speaker on his new job. Below is a short list of some of the congratulatory headlines.

Boehner gets a smokin' new job

-USA Today

Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner's new gig is with the board of a major N.C. company

-Charlotte Business Journal

Cigarette-Loving John Boehner Just Scored His Dream Job

-Vanity Fair

Smoker John Boehner Joins Board of Tobacco Company

-ABC News

To be fair, most of these news articles eventually discuss the dangers of smoking, although these discussions tend to be buried deep into the final paragraphs. At least one of these organizations, USA Today, questions the authenticity of a Big Tobacco company claiming to be concerned with the prevention of teen smoking. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is calling this Boehner’ new job “truly absurd.”

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