(NaturalNews) The U.S. Congress has just voted to categorize tobacco as a drug, handing the FDA regulatory authority to control the advertising, marketing and sales of cigarettes. This hilarious move, if approved by the Senate and signed by the President, would put the FDA in the position of approving the sale of a "drug" that the entire medical community openly admits kills millions of people. According to the CDC, tobacco kills 438,000 people each year in the United States alone (1). Now, thanks to the U.S. Congress, the FDA could soon be the government office responsible for allowing
these 438,000 deaths each year!
Think about it: Right now, FDA-approved drugs kill around 100,000 Americans a year, and that's if you believe the conservative figures from the American Medical Association (the real numbers are at least double that). Add tobacco deaths to that list, and you come to the startling realization that if tobacco is considered an FDA-approved "drug," then FDA-approved drugs will kill well over half a million Americans each year! (538,000 fatalities a year due to FDA-approved drugs, using government statistics.)
That's a level of fatalities that terrorists haven't even come close to approaching.
Why the FDA doesn't want to regulate tobacco
Obviously, the FDA does not want to find itself in this position, because if regulatory authority over tobacco is shoved onto the FDA, it would be forced to declare tobacco an unapproved, unsafe drug and ban its sale
Why? Because there have been no clinical studies whatsoever supporting the use of tobacco
as a medicine. And if it's considered a drug, then the FDA must apply the same rules to tobacco that it applies to other substances. And there's absolutely no way a series of clinical trials could show tobacco to be safe or effective at treating disease. (Unless, of course, Big Tobacco funds the studies, in which case cigarette smoke could be made to look like it CURES cancer, thanks to fraudulent science and corrupt researchers...)
Thus, if the FDA
were to follow its own rules, it would have to ban tobacco outright, considering it an "unapproved drug" and raid all the tobacco companies, confiscating their inventory and dragging them into court just like the FDA does with diet pills companies or cherry growers.
Of course, the FDA could decide to selectively NOT enforce its own rules against tobacco companies, but that puts the agency in an even worse position of making an exception on its drug enforcement policy, singling out the most dangerous "drug" ever created as one that suspiciously escapes regulatory action. That would make the FDA look like even more of a regulatory failure than it does already, calling into question whether the FDA simply bases its regulatory decisions on the size and influence of the corporation affected rather than genuine public safety.
Because, let's face it: Cigarettes will kill you. There's no debate anymore. Even the doctors -- who are the slowest people
in the world to accept new ideas -- are on board with this one. Sure, it took them a few decades to stop running Big Tobacco ads in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and doctors used to take money from the tobacco companies to say cigarettes
are "Recommended by doctors," but those days are long gone. Today, virtually everyone agrees smoking cigarettes is one of the most dangerous activities a consumer can engage in when it comes to health.
So how on Earth, then, could the FDA allow cigarettes to continue to be sold at all? If it enforces its own rules, it would simply have to ban cigarettes altogether.
And I say banning cigarettes outright is a huge mistake. Here's why:
Why a ban on cigarettes is a threat to your freedom
Now, I'm the first to say that it would be great if everybody in the country stopped smoking cigarettes. I hate the things, and most of the people who smoke them are the most idiotic, brain-numbed people you'll ever meet. I've watched numerous family members die from cancers that were no doubt caused by cigarette smoke, so I have every reason to support any reasonable effort to outlaw them.
Except I don't believe government should be in the business of telling consumers what they can and can't smoke
. If someone wants to light up and kill themselves in their own living room, go right ahead! I just don't think the rest of the taxpayers should have to pay for their health care!
Yep, you heard me right: Don't ban cigarettes, just ban government-funded health care benefits to people who choose to smoke (make them buy their own smokers' health insurance). After all, if they want to commit suicide with tobacco, why should the taxpayers pay for their cancer treatments, hospital stays and artificial lungs? Every time someone lights up a cigarette, they're creating a cost burden to society -- a burden paid for by people like you and me who actually take care of our health. Thus, their smoking steals money from OUR pockets.Non-smokers are subsidizing the disastrous health care costs of smokers
, and I think it's time we stopped. After all, if people want to kill themselves with cigarettes, why should we interfere with health care services that try to save their lives? Shouldn't we just give them the freedom to die the way they've chosen by smoking cigarettes in the first place? (If you really believe in freedom, you see, then you also believe in the freedom for people to die the way they choose, and some people choose to die from cancer. If that's the way they want to live and die, that's their choice!)
Use economic incentives to help people quit smoking
While I recommend we stop providing taxpayer-funded health care services for people who smoke, I think we should also offer health care service incentives to help people quit smoking
. For example, stop-smoking seminars, hypnosis programs, and other educational efforts should be offered for free (paid for with taxpayer dollars), and anyone who quits smoking should be openly accepted back onto government-funded health care programs. (There are blood tests that can easily detect nicotine and other cigarette chemicals in the blood...)
We should provide economic incentives for people to stop smoking while putting in place severe economic penalties for those who continue to smoke. That's the smarter way to keep individual liberty intact while encouraging consumers to take responsibility for their own behaviors. Education programs combined with appropriately-structured economic incentives will drive millions of Americans away from cigarettes without taking away consumer freedoms.
The other option: Turn smokers into criminals and double the prison population...
Of course, the FDA could just ban cigarettes altogether, but that would create a new kind of tobacco Prohibition situation where people who light up a cigarette are considered criminals, arrested, and locked away in prisons that are already overcrowded with other non-violent offenders (like people who harmlessly smoked a little weed, which is already illegal...)
Today's War on Drugs has been a complete disaster. If we launch a War on Tobacco, we'll just turn the U.S. into an anti-tobacco police state and fills the prisons with people whose only crime was their inability to beat a nicotine addiction.
You see, most people misunderstand the appropriate role of government in a free society. You cannot have "freedom" if you have the government running around criminalizing everything it doesn't want consumers to engage in. (In Singapore, they've banned bubble gum!) Instead, you have to use government to create economic incentives and penalties
that allow free-market choice to drive consumers away from those things that are bad for them and towards those things that are good for them.
That's why we should stop subsidizing corn and sugar, by the way: It makes sugar cheaper than it should be and actually encourages consumers to buy more products made with sugar. Corn subsidies make high-fructose corn syrup artificially cheap, too, which is why you find that obesity-promiting ingredient in so many foods and beverages.
Banning cigarettes will simply not work: Addicts will find ways to smoke a little leaf, regardless of the law. And turning them into criminals does not solve the problem. Instead, you need to provide education, services and support that helps consumers get off cigarettes and onto a healthier lifestyle.
Most people who smoke, after all, would like to quit! Consumers are already trending in the right direction on this issue, and with a little help, we could get tens of millions of Americans off these cancer-causing tobacco products and onto a healthier lifestyle.
That's why creating economic policies that support the transition away from cigarettes is the best way to accomplish the goals of getting people to stop smoking.
The easiest way to do this, of course, is to raise the tax on cigarettes. Go crazy with it: Make it cost $10 a pack, and then use that money to pay for the public education ads that tell people to stop smoking.
Denying health care services to smokers is another way to create an economic penalty for smoking. But my suggestion on this is mostly satirical, since such a policy would be considered cruel and would never become law. (I maintain, however, that taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund the health care services of smokers. They should be financially responsible to pay for their own cancer treatments, heart surgeries, etc.)
A third way to stop smoking is to make it extremely inconvenient for smokers, such as banning smoking everywhere other than a smoker's own home or vehicle. This is already working in some cities, and it's good public health policy because secondhand smoke is highly toxic, too, and those of us interested in being healthy shouldn't have to breathe the toxic smoke exhaled from people who insist on puffing on cancer sticks.
With a little creativity, a government can create such strong incentives for moving away from smoking that very few consumers will persist in their smoking habits, and that will ultimately save millions of lives and billions of dollars.
Why government should get off our backs and out of our private lives
Banning cigarettes outright is not the answer, nor is granting the FDA regulatory control over tobacco. Sure, in a do-nothing government that remains suspiciously friendly to the tobacco industry, shoving regulatory control over tobacco into the hands of the FDA may be the only remaining option for initiating meaningful anti-tobacco action, but in no way is it an ideal solution to this complex problem. In fact, it could lead to the mass criminalization of innocent Americans who need help quitting, not prison time.
Government, by default, greatly overestimates the power of its role in making decisions for free people. In fact, most governments are incredibly arrogant and demeaning to the People. I think we should put freedom into the hands of consumers and let them live (or die) from the consequences of their own actions.
Consumers who choose to avoid cigarettes will live healthier, longer lives with far lower medical costs. Consumers who choose to smoke cigarettes will live diseased, shorter lives with far higher medical costs, and they'll often die painful cancer deaths. But as long as people are told all this up front, I believe we should let people make their own decisions on this matter. As long as they don't waste taxpayer money on their own sky-high health care costs, I don't see that it's any of our business telling people how they should live or die.
You see, I believe in REAL freedom, not the false freedom marketed by the Bush Administration in its delusional "war on terror." Real freedom means putting power (and responsibility) back into the hands of consumers and letting them decide for themselves what they want to do with their lives. It also means getting government off your backs, out of your finances, and away from your private lives.
And I certainly don't think any government should tell you what you can or can't smoke. Even if it kills you.
Yes, government can ban tobacco advertising and marketing. That makes sense. It can restrict sales to people of a certain age, or even run public service announcements that attempt to educate consumers about reasons why they should stop smoking. But it should never turn smokers into criminals. Smoking is not a crime. It's stupid, but it's not criminal. (Unless you do it in MY house, in which case, I do consider it a criminal act, and I'll boot you right out the front door...)Sources: