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A story that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on June 6: "U.S. Senators Warn EU Over Proposed Cigarette Rules", by By Thomas Catan and William Mauldin. Here are some excerpts:

"Europe is encountering fierce opposition from an unexpected source over its efforts to curb smoking: Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

"In a sharply-worded letter, the Senate minority leader has warned the European Union its proposed restrictions on tobacco marketing would violate international trade rules and harm trade relations with the U.S."

"The May 7 letter was also signed by Sens. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), Richard Burr (R., N.C.) and Kay Hagan (D., N.C.)."

More below the fold.

There are a lot of issues to address here, but I'll start with this: we have four Senators whoring for the tobacco industry, which is losing ground in North America, partially because very few people in the Republican Religious Right smoke cigarettes. The tobacco industry is losing ground in Europe, too, so in an attempt to stem the tide, McConnell goes to bat for them.

Oh, and Paul's biography says that he's an M.D.

More excerpts from the WSJ article:

"Along with three other senators from tobacco-producing states, Mr. McConnell also pointedly reminded the European Union that his legislative body would be considering any free-trade agreement negotiated between the U.S. and EU. The two sides embarked on an ambitious effort to ink a trade pact earlier this year.

"'We have serious concerns about the (tobacco proposal) and its impact on trans-Atlantic trade relations,' read the letter, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. 'As the Senate considers the potential U.S.-EU free trade agreement, the (proposal) calls into question the EU's ability to deliver on regulatory commitments to the U.S. that it will have to make under a comprehensive U.S.-EU agreement.'"

"The senators leading the charge against Europe's proposed smoking rules have long-standing ties to the tobacco industry. Sen. Burr has received more money from tobacco companies, $524,000, than any other member of Congress, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Sen. McConnell has received $465,000 from the tobacco industry, making him the second-largest recipient."

"Other EU members say it is necessary to curb an estimated 700,000 deaths from smoking in the EU each year. 'It's as if a city like Palermo or Frankfurt were to vanish from the EU every year,' said a spokesman for the Health Commissioner. 'We think our proposal, particularly since it targets young people, will help getting down the number of people who smoke in the EU.'"

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