Cigarette companies that supported the president's campaign are gaining crucial political victories under his administration, even as tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death.
As inequality in America continues expanding by many measures, smoking is a growing aspect of that divide that is a matter of life and death.
The "Last Week Tonight" host explains that although government regulations have helped reduce smoking in the U.S., American tobacco companies are actually stronger than ever -- and brazen enough to run advertising he calls "a pile of horseshit."
The latest Securities and Exchange Commission examination of credit rating firms found problems similar to those documented in ProPublica’s investigation of tobacco bonds.
When New Jersey decided to bail out some of its tobacco bonds, the state gave up $400 million in future revenues to pocket $92 million immediately, an arrangement that also helped one savvy investor cash in on a big bet.
Wall Street pressed S&P, Moody’s and Fitch to assign more favorable credit ratings to their deals and bragged that the raters complied. Now many of the bonds are headed for default.
A central tenet of government finance is that money borrowed over the long term should be spent on projects that will outlast the debt – things like buildings, bridges or other essential infrastructure. That's not what upstate New York's Niagara County did with much of its money from tobacco bonds.
Politicians wanted upfront cash from a legal victory over Big Tobacco, and bankers happily obliged. The price? A handful of states promised to repay $64 billion on just $3 billion advanced.
The editorial board of The New York Times has weighed in with its collective take on decriminalizing marijuana use, and it can be summed up with two familiar words: Legalize it.