Since 2006, state Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Edmond, has taken campaign donations from tobacco lobbyists. Earlier this year, Johnson introduced Senate Bill 802, which would've imposed an unwarranted sin tax on the sale of smoke-free electronic cigarettes, which compete with tobacco products. Other provisions of the bill included making it a criminal offense for a consumer to buy an e-cigarette online. Oklahoma e-cigarette stores would have had to buy their products only from licensed tobacco wholesalers.
After approximately 300 e-cigarette users came to Oklahoma City to oppose this bill, the House Health Committee voted it down. In common legislative practice, SB 802 should be dead. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Instead of admitting defeat, Johnson attached a nearly identical version of SB 802 as an amendment to House Bill 2097, which had already passed the House. Worse, he got it voted on almost immediately, meaning there was little opportunity for Oklahomans to contact their representatives.
Johnson should worry more about representing citizens and less about cashing checks from out-of-state tobacco companies.
Tim Elrod, Oklahoma City
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