Thursday, August 24, 2006


In yet another chapter of the ridiculous story called "Modern Governments Doing Your Due Diligence For You . . . Selectively," we learn from American Free Press that "district judge Gladys Kessler will force tobacco giants such as Philip Morris USA to switch to less loaded descriptions for their brands."

"Loaded descriptions"? Yeah, I'm wondering too. Let's take a look, shall we? According to the article:
so-called descriptor terms on cigarette packets such as "lights", "low tar" and "mild" will be outlawed from next January under a recent US ruling.
So, if I understand correctly, the judge has determined that a cigarette containing less tar than a regular smoke can't be labeled "low tar" because it's . . . uh, since the meaning of . . . uhhh . . .

Ok, I'll confess. I don't get it. We "allow" soft drink manufacturers to label sugar-free soda "Diet" or "Light." We "permit" brewers to label beers containing fewer carbs, or less calories, or diminished alcohol content as "Light" or "Lite." We "allow" produce growers to call food "organic" so long as it doesn't exceed a legislatively-determined quantity of chemical ingredients. Right?

But cigarettes -- determined to be Evil & Bad & Wrong -- can't be labeled as anything other than "Deadly," I guess. Why? Well, according to anti-tobacco lobbyists, "terms [such as "light"] have been key to keeping smokers, particularly women and teenagers, smoking despite the well-publicized hazards of their habit" (emphasis added). Well, since those Little Ladies can't be trusted to make sound decisions, guess we'd better legislate & rule in order to protect them from their own desires.

Driving can be hazardous too. Better keep the womenfolk out of cars; they might get hurt.

I don't smoke (quit 4 years ago), I think it's a miserable habit, I have no love for the sneaky Big Tobacco companies, and I think it's probably in everyone's interest to quit. But -- and to me this is the crux of it -- since cigarette packs contain a litany of terrifying warnings about their danger, and since the American people have known for 42 years that smoking can cause cancer, why are we continuing to regulate what tobacco companies can & can't do in order to sell their product?

I know the answer to that (politics; playing to a self-righteous electorate), but it disturbs me to no end. So long as the product in question isn't banned (and it shouldn't be), then we have no business interfering with the industry's ability to market itself.

Calling a cigarette "Light" isn't the same thing as calling it "Safe." One's a lie, the other's a description.


Blogger DED said...

Agreed. I'm a non-smoker who believes that the smoking bans have gone too far. I lost my grandmother to lung cancer because she smoked, but I still don't believe that a bar should be prohibited from permitting smoking. I've spent plenty of time in smoky bars and while I like the smoke free bars I don't think that the gov't has the right to tell a private establishment what it can do. Let the marketplace decide. I'm sure that the smoke free bars will be able to compete with smoking bars.

12:29 PM  

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