Local News

Local Farmers Say Tobacco Bill Grew Too Big, Too Fast

Posted June 17, 1998

— U.S. Senators Jesse Helms and Lauch Faircloth of North Carolina say the failure of the tobacco bill is good for North Carolina. But reaction is mixed among North Carolina's tobacco farmers.

Local tobacco farmers want legislation to protect the industry, saying it could put an end to some of the lawsuits between the industry and states. However, farmers, like Pender Sharp of Wilson, say the $516 billion McCain bill, which died last night in the senate chamber, grew so big so fast, it would have put the industry out of business."Tobacco companies would have had a hard time surviving. If they could have survived, they would have moved offshore. That would have left the entire industry dead and who would have paid the $516 billion with the industry dead."Sharp says he and many other farmers would have supported the earlier version of the bill which started at $368 billion. It would have provided lawsuit protection for cigarette makers. But he says, politicians saw a chance to cash in and added so many requirements, that they ruined the compromise."As it grew into the McCain bill, it became an enormous bill with all sorts of things in it that had nothing to do with tobacco and it totally lost its focus on curbing teenage smoking.There's already an effort by Democrats to get the bill going again, but it's unlikely anything will happen over the next few months.

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