Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why, if cigarettes are so toxic, so bad for you – which they are – and so addictive, aren’t they illegal?

The FDA has just announced new images, scary, revolting images intended to further discourage people from smoking. The Surgeon General warnings were apparently insufficiently severe to get the job done. What a surprise. Does our FDA not understand the concept of addiction? Apparently not. Either that, or it’s not really serious about putting an end to smoking. If the FDA was serious, it would have halted the manufacture and sale of cigarettes a long time ago.

When it comes to tobacco, to what model of public health management does the FDA subscribe? Instead of protecting us from the hazard, they way they would by not approving or pulling a deadly medicine, they chose instead to issue warnings, and leave it up to us to stop consuming. Can you imagine them announcing that, I don’t know, a popular cough syrup for children is deadly, followed by a casual, “Good luck with that.”

I wonder what the costs have been to our society and to the individual families most directly affected by smoking-related illnesses, compared to, let’s say, heroine and other hard drugs which are illegal.

So why, given all we know about the dangers of smoking, can you still buy cigarettes at your local grocery store and gas station? Certainly there is nothing of a moral nature stopping the manufacturers from making and selling their product. I mean, ask yourself what kind of company, what person sells something he or she knows is killing its customers? Wow. It’s as unbelievable as it is disgusting. Would you do that? For any amount of money? Or is money what it’s all about, and we’re just quibbling over the price? Careful, that last question was the criterion that George Bernard Shaw once used to define being a whore.

The fact is, it is all about the money. About the money that’s made growing and selling tobacco and the political contributions and lobbyists all that money supports. Okay, so money talks, and the producers and facilitators – from farmers to Phillip Morris, to the advertising agencies and media, to our elected officials – are all a bunch of you know whats. The question is, what does that make us for letting it happen?


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