Friday, April 3, 2009

Don't You Feel Sorry for Smokers?

ABC World News reported this little tobacco update on April 2, and it was printed in the "AMA Morning Rounds" on April 3:

...the House passed a landmark bill [Thursday] that
would for the first time give the federal government sweeping
authority over tobacco. Under the measure, the Food and Drug
Administration would have the power to limit the nicotine in
cigarettes, to regulate ads and to require warnings to appear
in larger print. The Senate now takes up its version...

So it has finally come to this. Cigarettes will come with a patient insert. Dosage and Administration. Warnings. Drug Interactions. Tobacco junkies will be showing up in the E.R. to try to sweet-talk some drowsy ER doc into writing a prescription. Child-proof caps on packs of cigarettes. Here's a smart business move for non-smokers: buy a stockpile of cigarettes now, because after the FDA gets hold of them the price will skyrocket and you can make a fortune selling yours on the street. Put three Marlboros in a ziplock bag and charge $20.00.

Say Phillip Morris wants to come out with a new brand. They will have to go through a 5 or 6 year FDA approval process costing at least tens of millions of dollars to get permission to market it. Sales reps will barge into doctor's offices trying to convince them to prescribe this or that brand by giving the office staff post-its and pens. Wait, I forgot: they are not allowed to give out post-its and pens any more (see my blog "Reforming Medical Ethics" posted March 7, 2009), because doctors are too morally weak, and might prescribe medications just because somebody left them a pen.

You know what the problem with Congress is? They have no cojones (Spanish for "backbone").
If tobacco use is so bad--and it is--outlaw it. They will not outlaw it because: (a) they get too much money from the tobacco lobby, (b) tobacco company employees represent too many votes, and (c) by putting a government agency in charge, it gives Congress more power. Those, unfortunately, are the bottom lines for them.


RKL said...

Warnings for cigarettes are a joke. Everyone who has ever inhaled cigarette smoke knows that it is bad for you. That's because the first thing you do after your first puff is cough. Anyone who claims that they didn't know it was dangerous is a liar, an idiot, or both.

Regulating the nicotine content in cigarettes will probably increase tax revenue. If they reduce the nicotine content per cig, that will mean current smokers will smoke more total cigarettes. Truthfully the government probably prefers it that way.


Desman said...

Thank you RKL. Its all about getting more tax dollars and more control over people's lives. It has very little to do with public health.

akates said...

Desman: You're really siding with Big Tobacco?

I should preface this with: I don't smoke, don't do drugs - legal (except for the occasional antibiotic) or illegal, and barely even have time to drink these days.

While I agree that the government (no matter who's in charge) as a whole doesn't give a good gosh darn about, say, me, I do not think that outlawing cigarettes is a good idea. Cigarettes are highly addictive, and do you know who sells illegal, highly addictive substances? Drug gangs, violent ones. Remember how well prohibition worked out? Illegalizing another substance would only provide the people against whom I wield my pepper spray, here in Baltimore, with another market. (No, preemptively, I am not suggesting that all drugs be legalized.)

Desman, I don't understand what you're talking about re. your medical ethics paragraph. No one said anything about cigarette prescriptions. They're just taxing them more, and adding bigger warning labels. I don't think the labels will have much effect, but they certainly won't do any harm. The taxes, though, may be a serious deterrent. I have a lot of friends who are / have been smokers and every time one quits (or tries to) at the top of his/her list of reasons, is money.

Furthermore, the money garnered from this tax hike (assuming, I guess, that it won't work well enough to stop people from buying cigarettes) is going toward funding the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

Also, Fun fact: While "cojones" is a viable option, the more common term these days is "huevos," which is Spanish for "eggs."

Publius said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Publius said...

a previous poster said " ...funding the State Children's Health Insurance Program."

Ah, yes "The Children". As long as we invoke "the children" and as long as we do "it" in the name of "the children", it does not matter what the "it" is, or how it leads to a further intrusion of big brother into our lives.

some goddamnliberalhippie said...

Pube, I find it offensive that you keep subtly alluding to Obama as "a brother."