By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Congress recently voted to put cigarettes under the control of the Food and Drug Administration. Supported by such diverse and antagonistic forces as Senator Ted Kennedy and Altria (formerly known as Phillip Morris), this new law if enacted would create chaos and danger in the market.
Let’s face the obvious. Cigarettes, if used as intended, will kill you. Loaded with carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals, there is nothing good to be said about cigarettes. It doesn’t matter if you smoke or chew, tobacco kills and does so painfully and miserably.
Putting cigarettes in the hands of the FDA is not going to change the dangerous characteristics of smoking. First, the FDA will declare that there is no benefit from cigarettes. Then, the FDA will declare cigarettes to be too dangerous for use. Next will come the economic attack where cigarettes will be taxed at rates intended to drive people away. Finally, cigarettes will be put on a schedule by the FDA which will make them illegal to possess or use. Government has no value if it is not regulating and controlling the market for our health.
Using taxation as a means to stop people from smoking was tried and failed in Canada. That nation’s government at one point felt that if a huge tax was levied upon cigarettes, people would stop using them. This is called “economic prohibition”. Instead of reducing smoking, what Canada experienced was a rise in crime. The market became flooded with black market cigarettes. Stolen cigarettes, smuggled tax free cigarettes, and crime followed this economic attack. In the end, Canada’s government relented and reduced the tax to a more tolerable level.
In Denmark, by using several social engineering tools, they managed to significantly reduce smoking. Studying the effects thereof, they found that over ten years, the cost to the health care system was dramatically reduced. There was a significant drop off in smoking related illnesses and deaths. Over twenty years, however, the same study found that the increase in survival from fewer smokers was a larger drain on the healthcare system as more and more people were living longer and suffering from age related and more expensive ailments. Smoking has one major benefit to society; it culls the herd.
Here in the United States, should the FDA ever get their hands on cigarettes, first we are going to see demands that dangerous chemicals and addictive chemicals be removed from tobacco. The result will be deeper inhaling and more frequent reaches for the pack. Nicotine is what is addictive but it is not the danger. Tar and the process of smoking is what kills us. If cigarettes are made to comply with reduced contents of tar and nicotine, people are going to smoke more.
Presently, the FDA already has lists of drugs that it deems dangerous and of no value to society. We have a War in place to deal with these substances. Marijuana, cocaine, and a litany of other substances have been declared to be too dangerous to use as intended. As a result of the FDA’s findings, entire industries have sprung up. There is illegal drug trafficking, massive growth of police agencies such as the DEA. Prisons are America’s #1 growth industry and half the beds are used by inmates convicted for drug related crimes. This is the result of the government involving itself in the private affairs of the citizen. It is what happens when government determines that a product is dangerous when used as intended. Government claims to know best. What we get is the worst of man’s inhumanity to man.
Cigarettes are headed down this same path. The FDA would be hypocritical to not put tobacco on a schedule along with other dangerous drugs. In fact more than any drug presently on those schedules, tobacco should be our most shamed drug. Other than feeding its addicts, the drug has no social or medicinal value whatsoever. Yet people like me seem to enjoy it.
Known as the "Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act", there is nothing in the law that deals with smoking itself. The bill focuses attention on "chemicals" in cigarettes, as if we could remove a few known impurities in cigarettes to make them harmless. In fact inhaling tobacco smoke, whether regular, "light" or herbal -- and unregulated or regulated -- will remain just as deadly. It fails to address the issue of smoking itself and until we deal with that problem, what people smoke will be irrelevant. The act of smoking itself, inhaling the burning hot gasses and toxins are what destroy our bodies. It doesn’t matter what I smoke but rather the fact that I smoke at all is where the harm emanates.
Tobacco companies have had the opportunities to manufacture cigarettes without the identified toxins. I am sure their best scientists have been spending tens of millions of dollars to try and create a cigarette that both delivers the nicotine buzz while removing the remaining toxins that wreak so much havoc on the human body. The lack of such a product on the market shows me that it cannot be done; at least not according to modern science. Once the government steps in and demands such products be removed or stop selling, we are going to end up with prohibition.
Cigarettes, cigars, and chew are neither foods nor drugs. They do not belong under the control of the FDA or even government itself. At best, cigarettes are but a drug delivery system. There are already products on the market that can deliver the same drug, nicotine, without smoking. Patches, pills, and gum are some of the alternatives. Still people smoke.
It is clear that the issue to be faced is the act of smoking itself. Already banned from most everywhere, this new law will find itself entangled in the rights of the person to live their life as they see fit. It is the act of smoking itself that will be the eventual target and smoking will become criminalized. Such is the result when we say government knows better what is good for you.
Personally I don’t think the bill or its sponsors care one whit about cigarettes or the health of society. Smoking bans, in my opinion are not about second hand smoke nor more than gun bans are about controlling guns. It is about some Americans don’t like other Americans who do smoke. Its not about smoking, its about the people who smoke. That is the true target of these types of laws. It is the same with our War on Drugs. It is the same with gun regulation. It is about not liking people who do enjoy these activities.