By now, almost every single person on earth knows about the dangers of smoking. Yet, more than 3000 children start this terrible habit every day. The fight against cigarettes has always been a case of the tobacco business against mere reason. However, given that common sense does not always win through, the Congress keeps trying to make laws for actions (quite unsuccessfully) while the tobacco industry allocates hundreds of millions of dollars to fighting these laws.
In early 2009, a legislation that almost doubled the cost of tobacco was approved. This legislation became effective on April 1, 2009. Maybe the grounds of that law was that, if tobacco products became so expensive, particularly in a deteriorating economy, people would just not be able to afford to poison themselves – or, in their perception- not as freely. The problem of this compulsory kind of behavior alteration is that smoking is addictive. When people try to quit, they become short-tempered. Do these people think that an individual who has just lost his job will stop smoking and go looking for a job meanwhile? That is quite unlikely. These people would rather cut-down on their food budget than quit smoking.
The only positive result of such legislation is that the government funds grew. Even though these taxes are supposed to fund innovative programs to aid the reduction of smoking and fund more law making to prohibit smoking in public areas. The effectiveness of these government efforts is clear to all of us.
The government’s newest efforts to put constraints on tobacco industry gave more power to the FDA with the ability to permit the ingredients of tobacco products, order changes, reduce toxins and ban new tobacco commodities. At first, it may seem like a benefit. Nicotine is the main addictive toxin in tobacco.
However, most people are not familiar with the fact that there are between 500 – 1000 ‘additives’ to tobacco in cigarettes and they are addictive as well. The Congress should put an end to this FDA power, and force all these additives to be removed. That way, they approve much less addictive tobacco products that empower people to overcome it.
Back when I was young and naive, I used to think that the FDA regulates drugs and food in a way that provides consumers with harmless products. Now I am aware that pharmaceutical companies produce medicine that, while they have passed FDA test, they are discovered later to have devastating side effects that remain unseen for years. The FDA approves antibiotics, growth hormones, and additives to enter the consumer market. Why would we suppose that the FDA could do any better with the ‘safety’ of cigarettes?
The issues of attempts to legislate behavior and taxation appear to be more related to politics and revenue than to actual solutions to the smoking dilemma. Maybe the funding should go to classroom study for students, and show documentaries of patients living on oxygen tanks and some pictures of how smoking harms the lungs.
In the end, if a well-educated and smart man like President Obama is a smoker, then the future generation should be our target. In his comments on the bill, Obama mentioned that for over ten years, leaders of both the Democrat and Republican parties have fought to put off tobacco companies from advertising their products to kids and inform the public of the dangers of this habit.
Representative Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California made a statement when this latest law was passed, in which he mentioned that that day is “the last gasp” of the tobacco companies’ efforts to defend their profits at the cost of the lives and health of the Americans and to advertise this habit to kids.