Trump's VP Pick Gov. Mike Pence: 'Smoking Doesn't Kill'

| by Michael Allen
Gov Mike PenceGov Mike Pence

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced on July 15 that GOP Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana would be his vice presidential running mate. Pence, a Christian conservative, may help Trump with evangelicals who have been reluctant to support the casino mogul.

Pence famously signed an anti-gay law -- the Religious Freedom Restoration Act -- that allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT people based on religious beliefs in 2015 (he later modified it after a public outrage), but lesser known is Pence's assertion in 2000 that "smoking doesn't kill."

Pence wrote a piece about smoking on his website in 2000 when he was running for Congress:

Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn't kill. In fact, 2 out of every three smokers does not die from a smoking related illness and 9 out of ten smokers do not contract lung cancer. This is not to say that smoking is good for you.... news flash: smoking is not good for you.

If you are reading this article through the blue haze of cigarette smoke you should quit. The relevant question is, what is more harmful to the nation, second hand smoke or back handed big government disguised in do-gooder healthcare rhetoric.

During a debate between Pence and his opponent that same year, The Indianapolis Star reported, "Pence clarified that he wrote that there was no causal link medically identifying smoking as causing lung cancer," reports Think Progress.

According to the Star, Pence later admitted that he received donations of approximately $5,000 and $10,000 from the tobacco industry. However, Think Progress reviewed data provided by Political Money Line and found that Pence had already received about $13,000 from political action committees that represented these tobacco companies: Brown & Williamson, Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, and US Tobacco.

The link between smoking and cancer was determined when Pence was five years old, in 1964, by the U.S. Surgeon General.

Pence, a fiscal conservative who opposes Obamacare, created a state-run media service in 2015 at taxpayer expense; two dedicated employees had a total salary of almost $100,000, noted the Star at the time.

The government-run news site, Just IN, reportedly publishes stories and press releases that are written by state-employed press secretaries.

Sources: MikePence.com via Archive.org, Think Progress, The Indianapolis Star / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

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