Smoking ban poses more questions

Keith Cousins

The American people united as one and demanded change when we elected Barack Obama, and it did not take long for change to be put into place. Recently, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gives the Food and Drug Administration the responsibility to regulate tobacco products.

The act stipulates first and foremost that FDA regulations will supersede weaker state laws, which is a major expansion of federal power. Tobacco advertisers are banned from using words such as “light” or “mild” as well as any other word that implies one cigarette is less dangerous then another. Flavored cigarettes such as cloves are also banned and a list of ingredients are to be placed on all cigarette labels, itemizing chemicals added to tobacco products. Finally, it restricts tobacco companies marketing to children, such as placing tobacco billboards near schools.

What does this bill mean for smokers and non-smokers?

For smokers, your choices in cancer-causing relief have been severely limited. You will no longer be able to purchase and smoke “light” cigarettes, cloves or flavored cigarettes.

Apparently these cigarettes are misleading to consumers in that they appear to be a healthier alternative. But does the American public really believe that the smoke they choose to inhale is healthier just because the label on the package says light or ultra-light? It can be strongly argued that smokers are aware that these cigarettes are just as harmful to their health, but they choose to smoke them for the taste.

Transparency is a large part of the bill, and this is quite beneficial. Being aware of exactly what chemicals are in cigarettes could sway people from choosing to smoke cigarettes in the first place. Reading the names of chemicals such as Phenethyl Isobutyrate and Maltodextrin on a pack of smokes, things that a chemistry major would have to describe to the common man, would have certainly hindered me from choosing to smoke five years ago.

However these regulations and government interceding in the free will of the people bring up questions for both smokers and non-smokers alike.

Why go halfway with controlling tobacco? If the government has determined that the American people are not intelligent enough to make a healthy choice and not smoke, why only ban certain types? Ban all smoking and tobacco products completely, stop selling them, stop marketing them, and stop taking “donations” from tobacco lobbyists. That way, the American public will not be conned by the perils of smoking and be left in the dark as they damage their health.

Where does this regulation of lifestyle choices end? Is the FDA going to ban or regulate fast food because obese people are unaware that a three Big Mac a day habit is hurting their health? Are car engines going to be limited to only a certain horsepower because drivers are unaware that going the fastest speed their car will allow is potentially harmful?

While these are extreme examples, the precedent has already been set. The American government has already decided that the American people are not smart enough to know that cigarettes are harmful. What else will they decide we need to be protected from?

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