"Big Tobacco's toughest fight in years is being waged by a band of highly paid, talented and experienced former legislators, political appointees and close friends of the most powerful people in Texas. They're fighting an uphill battle with such finesse that they're actually, occasionally, winning," reports Karen Brooks. At issue is a state measure to increase cigarette taxes by one dollar per pack. Lobbyists retained by Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds include Governor Rick Perry's former chief of staff, Texas' former secretary of state and former state legislators. Their arguments against the tax increase include that it will hurt retailers and that for "working-class people who can't afford to get away ... having a smoke is their version of a vacation." Tobacco companies are also running radio ads that are "offensive," "demeaning" and "condescending," according to one state senator, who pledged to oppose the industry-backed countermeasures after hearing the ads.
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