Campaign Spot reader Alex writes in with an update from a Mike Huckabee conference call this morning.
(No invite, Huckabee campaign folks? What, a couple of shots at your guy, and my invite gets lost?)
Blogger: There’s some concern about your statements regarding tobacco regulation from the Lance Armstrong forum. As a Public Health Professional, I fully support any and all tobacco regulation, but others felt your comments meant you would be building big government and forcing behavior on individuals. Could you clarify your views on tobacco regulation?
Huckabee: Certainly, I don’t believe that we as a government have a right to tell people what to do or not do. The issue is one of workplace safety. The same reason that the government regulates the exposure of radon and other toxic gases in the workplace. In Arkansas I signed a bill that banned smoking in certain public areas and businesses, but not in bars/restaurants, because those were places consumers could more easily choose to go to or not to go. So, in the workplace, if we regulate smoking, it is an issue of worker safety. The responsibility initially lies with the states, of course. The only way this would be a federal responsibility is for it taking on that role as part of OSHA as it regulates other work place safety.
I’m both reassured and unnerved by this. Yes, at the presidential cancer forum, he did mention the restaurant and bar exception, but when asked by Chris Matthews if he would sign a bill banning smoking “in public places,” he said, “I certainly would.”
I sympathize, I don’t like cigarette smoke in my workplace, but I don’t think it’s an issue for Congress and the President to resolve.
Secondly, if he really thinks it is an issue of workplace safety, why would Huckabee subject waiters and waitresses, busboys, bartenders, and hosts to cigarette smoke?