Sunday, August 30, 2009
This is the seventh installment in my “Bits and Pieces” series which is intended to encourage Congress to approach the objective of healthcare reform one issue at a time, rather than overwhelming itself and the American public in a ridiculous attempt to devise a single piece of all-encompassing legislation. Like this last sentence, it’s too complex, too much to do in a single breath.
This seventh topic isn’t part of the Obama Administration’s agenda for healthcare reform, but it should be. It’s certainly consistent with the spirit of healthcare reform, with the notion that it’s better to spend money keeping people healthy than wait and have to spend even more helping them get better – or worse, treating the likes of heart disease, lung cancer and emphysema.
Simply put, I want President Obama to endorse, and Congress to legislate the end of tobacco products, especially cigarettes, which extensive scientific research and the Surgeon General have long ago confirmed to be bad for our health.
It is a ridiculous contradiction we can no longer afford to accept that the same government that mandates the printing of serious health warnings on tobacco products would allow those products to be produced, sold and consumed. Why not do the same for hard drugs, legalize them as long as the manufacturers include an appropriate warning, or do the same for cribs and automobiles whose design defects might imperil our children or passengers? “It’s okay if it’s dangerous, as long as we warn people before they buy it,” is not supposed to be our government’s approach to protecting public health, the power and influence of any industry notwithstanding.
Smoking in public is already banned by many jurisdictions around the country. It’s high time we made it official.
We need to ask ourselves this simple question: Is it reasonable to ask all the American people to spend substantial amounts of their money to allow a minority to enjoy its addiction to smoking? Sound harsh? You bet, but who among us can rationalize continued tolerance for the adverse effects of smoking?
Medical insurance underwriters should be required to cover programs to help people stop smoking, and we need to do as much as we can, but no more than we should, to help the tobacco producers, related companies and the local economies dependent upon the sale of tobacco products transition to alternative, more healthy pursuits. But the sale and use of tobacco products has got to stop.
If you’re interested, here are some related posts…
For additional reading… “$2.03 Trillion: How much are we willing to pay because some Americans need to smoke?” published on the Wordfeeder, December 8, 2009.