Current mood: worried
This week the U.S. Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions holds hearings on S. 625, "The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act", which authorizes Food and Drug Administration control over tobacco products. A good thing? No, it isn't. Here's why.
You've all heard the saying about "a fox in the henhouse"? With S. 625, the foxes designed the henhouse. That's right; S. 625 was co-written by representatives of the tobacco industry, Altria Group (a.k.a. Philip Morris USA) in particular.
The long version is far too long for a blog. The short version is this:
- It discourages methods known to be effective for smoking reduction.
- It discourages use of less dangerous tobacco products.
- It protects market share for the largest company (Altria) and most established brand (Marlboro).
- It encourages the current myth that smokeless tobacco products are every bit as deadly as cigarettes.
- It would effectively prevent development of any new nicotine delivery products that might be safer for both users and those around them.
Of course, no tobacco product is safe to use, but smokeless kills only the user, not everyone else nearby. Relatively speaking, smokeless is far safer, with only 1 in 100 of its users being killed (eventually) by resultant cancers and such, whereas for cigarettes the figure is one in two; at the same time, no people nearby are harmed by smokeless products. S. 625 would, though, strengthen warnings on smokeless products.
The "saying" I've been saying for 20 years is just as true on this one as on any other tobacco issue I've run across in that time: "Anything the tobacco industry is for is bad for everyone else." That's not to say that there is nothing good to be found in S. 625 -- there is -- but to dwell on that is to praise the color of paint on the fox-designed henhouse.