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RJ Reynolds Behind Push To Ban Ephedra
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WINSTON-SALEM, NC - The Washington Post revealed Tuesday that a three-month investigation has shown that the consumer-advocacy group Consumers Against Unsafe Supplements (CAUS), which has been campaigning for the ban of ephedra, is quietly funded by the nation's second largest tobacco company, RJ Reynolds. Andrew Schindler, RJR CEO, was quoted as saying, "As a company, we are wholly dedicated to improving the health of the American public. To that end, we have conducted our own research into the deleterious effects of ephedra. Having concluded that it is indeed a health-hazard, we formed CAUS to bring about a change. That is our democratic right."

"RJR is not a champion of health issues," said anti-tobacco activist Brenda Bell Caffee, "and while I agree that ephedra is a problem, I am uncomfortable with the idea that a company that sells a dangerous product that is known to stimulate people and help them lose weight is itself taking up the fight against what is essentially a competing product."

"We do not see ephedra as a competing product," responded Schindler, "we are not in competition with anyone that doesn't sell tobacco. Yes, tobacco is dangerous. So is sky-diving. People make choices and we support the right to make choices, even dangerous ones. But ephedra is not a choice, it is a drug. We are certainly against that."

When asked about the apparent contradiction of a company selling a dangerous product and using those profits to try to ban another dangerous product, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson replied, "Any port in a storm, ya know? If RJR wants to fund an initiative to ban ephedra, I'm for that. If an ephedra manufacturer wants to fund more anti-smoking ads, I'm for that, too. I'm not picky about who funds what, I just want to make a healthier America."

"That's all any of us want," said Schindler.
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