Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Tobacco Legislation

  1. Jul 5, 2009 #1
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/13/business/13tobacco.html?ref=politics
    While the bill is well intentioned I think they are going to great lengths for a slim benefits and the greatest beneficiaries it would seem are going to be the major tobacco companies.

    First of all it will make getting new tobacco products out an incredibly drawn out and expensive process. Smaller companies will not be able to compete with the big boys and companies like RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris will take even more of a lions share of the market. Philip Morris even supported the legislation.

    Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the legislation will ban flavoured tobaccos. Flavoured cigarettes are really the only major market for smaller tobacco companies. Kreteks (clove cigarettes) will also be banned which will completely hedge out competition from indonesian companies that make about one hundred million dollars in exports to the US. But the corporate protectionism doesn't stop there.

    Menthol cigarettes, the biggest money making flavoured cigarette in the US, will be the only flavoured cigarettes exempted from the ban. This also happens to be a cigarette flavour most commonly prefered by African Americans and a big money maker for companies like Reynolds and Morris.

    So the US government has passed legislation dubbing tobacco a dangerous and addictive substance requiring tight control while simultaneously setting up profit protections, and possibly market share boosts, for its biggest pushers.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2009 #2
    It's, at least, good to know that our hard working legislators occasionally get a few facts straight.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2009
  4. Jul 5, 2009 #3
    how Kool of them to keep menthol
     
  5. Jul 5, 2009 #4
    What does he mean it defines changes in Washington and who it works for? That's a vague notion. Judging by the list of banned cigarettes it seems pretty clear that Washington works for tobacco companies and big business. Does this bill mention how these new regulations will help children, or is that just the facade they put on it to promote it to the public? If that is the real reason then they should just ban cigarettes altogether. What a sham! I resent this kind of 'freedom'.
     
  6. Jul 5, 2009 #5
    I think that anyone who supports this kind of legislation has failed to grasp the meaning of "freedom" and "indepedence" as intended by the founding fathers. Jefferson himself owned a tobacco plantation that was built from the ground up by his father Peter.

    The loss of smaller tobacco companies due to this legislation will also effect pipe smokers, people like Albert Einstein, who was a permanent member of the Montreal pipe smoking club, or Bertrand Russel, a centenarian who was rarely photographed or depicted without his smokey pipe.

    It really bothers me when I see people villify smoking, and use it as a reason to judge someone or dismiss them. I have read that Hitler despised smoking, and heavily regulated it's use in the third Reich, particularly by women.

    The argument that we should protect consumers from tobacco companies is applied inconsistently if it's not applied to other products. Should we ban TV for making people stupid? Should we bad fast food for making people fat?

    The argument that some non-smokers are bothered by smoke is too weak to justify impinging on the rights of the smoker. The free market will do a fine job seperating smokers from non-smokers if the government would stop interferring. As for the idea that second hand smoke causes cancer and kills, what it actually does is raise the statistical risk of dying in these ways. Similar things can be found about motorcycles, knives, etc. What I am saying is that if you spend time around dangerous items, you face an increased risk of danger.
     
  7. Jul 5, 2009 #6
    It finally places tobacco under the regulation of the FDA(not something that specifically helps children). It requires larger more agressive warning labels on the packaging(think England). It increases penalties against establishments found to have sold tobacco to minors. It completely cuts tobacco company endorsement of any sporting events, teams, ect. It places stronger regulation on tobacco product advertisement (specifically restricting it to black and white apparently). It bans marketing of cigarettes as "light" "mild" ect (believing this falsely makes the product seem safer). And the bit mostly directed at reducing underage smoking is the banning of flavoured cigarettes (except menthols as noted) which is believed to be a gateway for teen smoking.

    There may be other things but these are the ones that I have specifically read about.
     
  8. Jul 5, 2009 #7
    Hmm, I don't buy it. The regulations they are making primarily affect people who are not underage. Most of the people who smoke flavoured tobacco do so legally. What they are doing is restricting the rights of the majority of people who abide the law to 'protect' the few who don't. It's a bad strategy. If they focused more on restricting the sale of tobacco to minors that would be more understandable. The whole 'If we can't stop the kids from smoking then nobody can smoke' is just treating adults like children. I also don't believe it.

    Tobacco advertisement has already been removed from television advertisement completely. Hasn't it? The black and white advertisement, is this in magazines or something? Still, seems a silly change to make. I guess smoking is too appealing to allow a conscious decision when it's in color.

    I don't know how the FDA operates, but I do believe it is a good idea to monitor and regulate the production and distribution of drugs. Depending on how they handle it I don't have any problems with that, but I'm wary of the effect it will have on smaller businesses. The regulations should be fair to business as well as consumers.

    Overall I think this bill is a very bad idea.
     
  9. Jul 5, 2009 #8

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It's of course political posturing. (Maybe this thread belongs in politics rather than GD?)

    I agree that it's something that sounds good on the surface, because a lot of people want to see tobacco banned, so writing a bill that appears to curb it is popular. However, I think you're right that it's all smoke (no pun intended) and mirrors.

    It puts tobacco use under FDA regulation so they can put bigger warning labels on tobacco products. Is there any evidence that bigger warning labels has any effect at all on curbing tobacco use? And, unless this comes with a boost in the FDA's budget to actually apply regulatory oversight, it's more likely to pull resources from other areas where FDA is also already underfunded and bogged down, such as approving new lifesaving drugs and products and protecting food safety. Unless it gives the FDA full authority to flat out ban tobacco products, or put them on a controlled substance list that requires a doctor's prescription to get (wouldn't the tobacco companies love to be able to charge prescription drug prices for cigarettes and have them reimbursed by insurance companies), it's just going to bog down FDA with inspections of facilities without doing anything to really stop the product.

    I'm not so concerned of the effect it will have on smaller businesses selling tobacco products, I just wish it would have more impact on the big ones too. But, those big businesses are hard to shut down, especially when the economy is weak. The reason they have such a tight grip on Congress' short hairs is that they are huge employers and huge sources of tax revenue for both federal government and state governments. You can't ban tobacco and put all those people out of work when the economy is already in the dumps and unemployment rates are still climbing. You basically would need to align the stars right to have the right people in Congress when the economy is flourishing and new industries are starting up to decide that's a good time to shut down the tobacco industry when the workers stand a chance of finding a new job moving into another industry.
     
  10. Jul 5, 2009 #9
    I think that the major reason for appealing to the protection of children is a strategic means of making the bill difficult to vote against. The title serves those who make the claims and ads you see where politician X is accused of voting against legislation to protect children.


    I was thinking of posting it in P&WA. Originally I was going to ***** and moan about my brand of cigarettes being banned so I put it here instead but obviously my post went a rather different direction.
    I am unsure how many tobacco growing states we have or how much clout they would have in trying to prevent an outright ban on tobacco products but I would imagine that is at least part of why such a strong measure has little chance of surviving congress. The not so subtle protectionism of this bill along with endorsement from Philip Morris and possible increase in business for US tobacco producers probably make it hard for tobacco states to turn down. Their politicians get to look good supposedly protecting families and superficially looking self sacrificing.

    Edit: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-02/ehs-dcw013107.php
    On the effectiveness of tobacco warning labels.
     
  11. Jul 5, 2009 #10

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Smokers do not have the right to inflict pain and discomfort on others in a public place, to think so is ridiculous. People that choose to light up a cigarette around other people should be punished, by fines and/or being physically removed from the building, except inside their own home. Nothing is worse than someone blowing smoke in my face. It hurts. I have bad allergies and was asthmatic until my early 20's. It's not just the foul smell from the smoke, which is reason enough that anyone with a functioning brain would understand is beyond rude to do around non-smokers. Second hand smoke causes me physical pain. I, for one, am realy glad that laws are being passed to stop smokers from violating the rights of other people. Too bad that common sense wasn't enough.

    I agree that this new tobacco bill is a farce.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2009
  12. Jul 5, 2009 #11
    Obviously this statement is hyperbole, an example of one of the reasons why democracy is such a poor form of government (i.e. the masses of people are convinced more so by passionate rhetoric than by logic).

    What would Thomas Jefferson, or Einstein, or Bertrand Russel have said if you spoke to them the line above? They would probably assure you that while no decent person should be blowing smoke at you intentionally (breathing on strangers is rude in general), that if you however are so sensitive to smoke then that is your problem, and it's up to you to avoid smoke. I've seen green-types get flipped out over mainstream scented detergents (e.g. tide), deoderants, bath soaps, claiming that the chemical smell burns their nose and whatnot. Personally, I don't dispute that these people are sensitive and bothered, but again, that is their problem. A basic principle of a free society is that you must take control over your own situation to get what you want, not to micromanage which habits other people are allowed to have. The fact is that, aside from the remote risk of fire, tobacco never causes an imminent risk of danger. If you are concerned about long-term health effects of smoking, or if you are bothered by smoke, then you have the choice to avoid it. If and only if you did not have the choice then it would be right for the government to pass legislation to give you back the choice.

    Also, physical pain is not some kind of trump card that makes it valid to restrict another persons rights, especially where you are in an acutely sensitive minority. Alcoholics and autistics can feel much pain and anguish when exposed to bright lights / fluorescents, should these be banned? Some people are hyper sensitive to sounds that they perceive as loud, these sounds cause them pain, should all speaker systems be restricted ? The answer is no, these people need to admit that their hyper sensitivity is their own problem and deal with it by making personal choices, not by telling others what to do.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2009
  13. Jul 5, 2009 #12
    Tobacco is a known carcinogen. Are you saying that I should have the right to spread other carcinogens willy-nilly around in populated areas? So should I have the right to spray you with benzine if I would find that fun? How about the government's ban on setting off dirty bombs in populated areas? Are you saying I should I have the right to set one off? If not, why should you have the right to blow a carcinogen in another person's face? The main harm in setting off of dirty (radioactive) bomb is that it will spread carcinogens around in the environment. What is the difference?
     
  14. Jul 5, 2009 #13
    Please stop using people names for your own arguments. You did not even know them.

    I for one would be pretty happy if someone was working seriously on those issues as well.
     
  15. Jul 5, 2009 #14
    The difference is in the efficiency in causing cancer. Every single substance is toxic provided it is concentrated enough. Even water or oxygen can kill you if you are being injected too much. Therefore, I do not think you comparison is fair.
     
  16. Jul 5, 2009 #15
    Probably about 99% (or more) of the time I spend smoking in public places I am no where near anyone who may have an issue with it. The other one percent (or less) of the time I spend moving away from people who may have an issue with it. And as a smoker I do not appreciate being characterized as an ***hole who blows smoke in peoples faces. Nor do I appreaciate the idea that I should have to shut myself in somewhere by myself like I'm some sort of diseased freak if I want to have a cigarette.
     
  17. Jul 5, 2009 #16
    Besides what Humanino has already explained, the difference is that some people choose smoking as a hobby, and have done so for hundreds of years, but no one chooses to activate benzine sprays or dirty bombs as a hobby. Hopefully you understand that Tobacco has positive qualities that many people enjoy in addition to being a carcinogen, more analogous to red meat than to dirty bombs.

    The fact that I didn't know them is irrelevant. Their positions on Tobacco are well documented in the historical records, and they are generally recognized as great people, thereore it is relevant to mention them. When we are talking about passing American laws against a several century old common habit, then at the very least it is relevant to ask ourselves whether the men who wrote the constitution intended for the US to get so involved with micromanaging people freedoms. The answer is that they absolutely never intended the government to dictate what people could and could not do on such a detailed level.
     
  18. Jul 5, 2009 #17
    Regardless, that does not give you or anyone else the right to hurt another person's health without their permission. What a person does in his or her own home is perfectly fine, but what he or she does publicly concerns everyone. I don't have the right to get a squirt gun and spray carcinogens on people even if it has the positive quality of making my trigger finger stronger.

    How is it relevant to mention people like Bertrand Russell or Albert Einstein? Either your argument is sound and valid or it is not, regardless of what person X believes.
     
  19. Jul 5, 2009 #18
    actually, i have the right to clean air and a jacket that isn't soiled by your habit. sure, you have a right to your dirty little habits, i have no problem with that. you just have no right to impose it on anyone else.

    see that's the thing, your nicotine addiction causes you to come up with irrational arguments to support your position. i am not responsible for the alcoholic's addiction and pain, nor the congenital defects of others. it's not my fault that they cannot function the same in society as normal people. nor do normal people have an obligation to accommodate them by dimming the lights. that would be an unreasonable accommodation. what is reasonable is that they wear shades. likewise, you could walk around in a smoke-filled bubble that traps your noxious smoke away from innocent normal people.

    in any case, your addiction is not our problem.
     
  20. Jul 5, 2009 #19

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    The problem is these people didn't live in an era where the dangers of smoking were firmly established. You can't extrapolate what you assume they would say to the present era.

    I also agree with SA about the demonizing of smokers. EVERY person I know, and I mean every single person I know who smokes does so to reduce stress and is fully aware that it's very rude to smoke near people. None of them smoke so they can reduce the life expectancy of people around them. Hell, what about drinking? We know the health costs for that and although there's no such thing as second-hand intoxication, the social costs and derived costs (drunk driving, crime) from drinking is considerable. I'm personally way more fearful of getting hit by a drunk driver or receiving bodily injury or property damage from some drunk then I am of getting cancer from smokers. If people want to ban smoking, fine, just don't dehumanize people.
     
  21. Jul 5, 2009 #20
    I think drinking is a really good analogous example, here. Just because people want the freedom to drink doesn't give them the right to put people in danger in public (hence the ban on drunk driving). It isn't the non-drinker's job to avoid the drunk drivers in public.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook