Wednesday, August 6, 2008

House of Representatives discovers cigarettes are unhealthy . . . .

. . . . and naturally wants to create a new bureaucracy to deal with them.

Aside from the fact that you'd be hard-pressed to find an American alive who doesn't understand that cigarettes are dangerous, just think of all the costs hidden in this agenda to give the FDA power to regulate tobacco as a drug.

From the Washington Post:

The bill specifically states that the F.D.A.’s new powers would stop short of the ability to order the elimination of nicotine from tobacco products or place an outright ban on all tobacco products.

But the agency could reduce nicotine to nonaddictive levels if it determined that doing so would benefit public health. The F.D.A. could also require changes in tobacco products, like the reduction or elimination of other harmful ingredients....

The amendments also require the F.D.A. to publish an action plan on the advertising and promotion of menthol and other cigarettes to young people, giving priority to minority communities....

If the legislation is enacted, consumers would see a wholesale revamping of the warning labels on tobacco products. The small messages currently on cigarette packs warning of the negative health effects would be replaced by graphic images of the physical ravages often caused by cigarettes, such as lung tumors and mouth growths.

The bill will also require cigarette makers to provide detailed disclosure about the type and quantities of ingredients in their products — like ammonia and acetaldehyde — which are believed to work with nicotine to increase the addictiveness of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. The requirements mean that companies would be required to disclose internal research on the biological effects of those additives.

Cigarette companies could no longer advertise their products as “light” or “ultralight” to convey the notion of less harmful ingredients. Some companies have anticipated those changes by packaging their products so that cigarettes packs are color-coded to denote different blends.

Under the bill, any outdoor advertising of cigarettes, and advertising in publications seen by children, would have to be in black and white, to reduce their visual allure.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Supposedly the costs will be picked up primarily by tobacco company fees. Lovely word, primarilly, leaving room for lots (maybe even millions and billions) of exceptions.

What it really means is that we're going to make smokers pay for the cost of regulating their own behavior.

I don't like House Minority Leader John Boehner at all, but he has a point:

In floor discussion, John A. Boehner, the House minority leader, a smoker, called the legislation a “boneheaded idea.”

“How much is enough?” Mr. Boehner said. “How much government do we need? There’s not a smoker in America that doesn’t understand that smoking isn’t good for you.”

But Henry A. Waxman, the California Democrat who sponsored the bill, responded, “The minority leader said ‘When is enough, enough?’ Well cigarettes, one of the most dangerous products on sale today, are not regulated at all.

There's a critical sub-text here: the public can never be trusted or allowed to make its own choices, no matter how much information it has about a product. That's what Waxman is arguing.

Frankly, if the liberals and progressives had any moral fortitude, they'd be introducing legislation to make cigarettes illegal, whether it passed or not, and only then would they allow themselves to be bargained down to this. It's that distinction which makes it pretty clear that they are more interested in expanding the regulated State than in actually improving anybody's health.

But, naturally, the folks who have never met a regulation they didn't like are already climbing aboard.

At Delawonk (the new, far more pallid, and far less interesting self-styled competitor to Delawareliberal), both Shirley of the Curmudgeon and Mike of Down With Absolutes raise similar objections to this bill, to which Mark lamely replies,

Your [sic] forgetting the ample evidence that cigarette manufacturers manipulate the levels of specific substances in their product to enhance it’s [sic] addictive properties.

People can’t make informed decisions about consumption of a product if the product in question has been manufactured specifically to get the consumer addicted.

[Note: I usually either clean up typos in blog comments or just let them go; people type fast when they've got something to say. But when you advertise yourself thus--Home to the largest brains in the blogosphere, DelaWonk is a website that brings together professionals and public policy experts for conversations on policy issues. We try and enlighten the public policy conversation--then you deserve a [sic] when your writing suggests you don't understand the proper use of apostrophes.]

Back to that last statement.

When you read:

People can’t make informed decisions about consumption of a product if the product in question has been manufactured specifically to get the consumer addicted

What he really means is:

Despite the existence of a decades-long media campaign and a multi-million-dollar "help-you-quit" industry, millions of Americans still aren't doing what I want them to do, so I'm left with no recourse other than to use the power of the State

Which is as good a way as any of welcoming (sort of) Delawonk to the land of pretentious Nanny State advocates, who rather than representing an actual opinion (again the contrast to Delawareliberal, DWA, or Delaware Watch is merited), is transparently the tool of a particular campaign and certain elements of the self-interested State Democratic machine....


Brian Miller said...

Someone's drained all the blood from that Delawonk site. It looks as colorful (and interesting) as the Bride of Frankenstein, prior to her reanimation.

tom said...

Henry Waxman is also the bonehead that has been trying to ban vitamins for the past 15 years or more. He's never encountered anything he doesn't think the FDA should regulate to death.

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