WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Faced with lingering debts due to a still struggling economy, President Barack Obama issued an executive order today allowing the purchase of alcohol and cigarettes with food stamps.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers nutrition assistance to eligible individuals who face financial or other hardships when trying to adequately feed themselves and their dependents.
The US Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program, has a strict policy on which items can and cannot be purchased with food stamps. Alcohol and cigarettes are not categorized as “essential nutrition,” and were never allowed on the “Food Stamp Safety List” – until now.
“We’re faced with tough times. American families are still struggling, although the economy is slowly recovering,” said President Obama. “The boost in sales generated by alcohol and cigarette sales will help aid in the recovery efforts, and generate much-needed revenue.”
For years, the President has struggled with a much publicized nicotine addiction, and this executive decision is bound to raise the hackles of nutrition experts, not to mention closer to home, where the First Lady, Michelle Obama, has advocated healthy eating habits and exercise. When asked if that may create tension within the White House, the President replied “I hope not.”
Other items disallowed on the food stamp list include vitamins, medicine, hot food or food eaten in a store, live animals, and cosmetics.
Major tobacco manufacturers and alcohol distributors have been slow to overly praise the decision, seen as controversial from both sides of the political aisle. Members of the GOP have also remained strangely silent in their usual criticism of the President’s every action, owing to the fact that many members of Congress are on vacation and receive large subsidies from the alcohol and tobacco industries.