McCormick opposes regulation of addictive nicotine products that harm young people - TAI News
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As tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians die of tobacco-related causes every year, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick is criticizing federal efforts to regulate nicotine products. During his richly compensated tenure at the helm of a Connecticut-based hedge fund, it profited from tobacco industry stocks.

McCormick, who reportedly still lives in a $16 million mansion in Westport, Connecticut, is the Republican Party of Pennsylvania’s endorsed challenger to face Democratic incumbent Sen. Bob Casey in November.

On Feb. 8, McCormick tweeted a Fox News story criticizing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for urging a federal investigation into the health effects of  Zyn, oral pouches containing powdered nicotine that are designed to be inserted between a person’s teeth and gum. Schumer also called for investigation into the marketing tactics of Zyn’s maker, Swedish Match, a company owned by tobacco giant Philip Morris International. 

“The same people who believe in taxpayer-funded safe rooms for heroin use in the name of harm reduction want to ban the *safer* product that helps millions quit smoking,” McCormick wrote. “It makes no sense.”

According to Truth Initiative, a national public health organization that works to combat tobacco and nicotine addiction, even though the pouches do not contain leaf tobacco, they are addictive, dangerous to adolescents’ brain development, and sold “in an array of youth-friendly flavors, including fruit, mint, and other flavors.” 

Zyn’s website claims the product is an alternative “only for adults 21+ who currently use nicotine,” but critics worry it is gaining popularity with younger people.

“We are hooking a whole new generation of young people on to nicotine,” cardiologist Dr. Nidhi Kumar told CBS New York on Feb. 5. “The marketing strategies, the packaging looks like candy, flavors like cinnamon and mint and even names like ‘smooth’ or ‘chill.’ I mean, who are these products appealing to? Young people.”

It was not the first time McCormick has tweeted against regulation of dangerous nicotine products.

“Chuck Schumer cannot balance the budget but he wants to take away smokeless tobacco pouches enjoyed by many Pennsylvanians,” he tweeted on Jan. 23. “Help me make Chuck Schumer irrelevant.”

“More extreme government overreach,” he tweeted three days later in response to a news clip of Schumer warning parents about nicotine pouches. “Schumer and the Democrats want to ban menthol cigarettes and smokeless tobacco while they use your tax dollars to fund free meth kits and heroin injection sites. Ridiculous.”

McCormick served as CEO of Bridgewater Associates until January 2022, when he resigned to run for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat; his annual compensation as CEO was  more than $22 million. He lost narrowly in the 2022 Republican primary to television personality Mehmet Oz.

The firm made its money through hedge fund investments. According to the company’s Securities and Exchange Commission filing for the final quarter of 2021, Bridgewater Associates held about $25 million worth of shares in Philip Morris International and another $11 million in Altria Group, the company that owns Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., and the e-cigarette company NJOY.

A McCormick campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

Nicotine addiction, especially among kids, remains a major public health problem, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, with many youths becoming addicted to nicotine through smokeless products like vaping devices and e-cigarettes. 

In 2019, about a quarter of Pennsylvania high school students said they had used electronic vapor products in the previous month, 4% had used smokeless tobacco, and more than 6% had smoked cigarettes, according to a Truth Initiative analysis of CDC survey data. 

About 22,000 Pennsylvanians die each year from the effects of smoking cigarettes, according to the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania.

Casey is a co-sponsor of the Preventing Opportunities for Teen E-Cigarette and Tobacco Addiction (PROTECT) Act, a bill that would establish a national strategy to curb underage use of electronic cigarettes and other emerging nicotine products.

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