Big Tobacco vs Public Health

I almost remember a time when people smoked like fiends, or I have heard about it from my parents and grandparents. Smokers were hooked from an early age and no one made a fuss about it. Big tobacco was not yet under attack and continued to advertise in all media. Free samples were given out to college students. Yes, it happened!

It is a billion-dollar industry that produces a product that kills. It took a long time to have smoking banned in restaurants and public places. Laws helped to minimize the impact of second hand cigarette smoke. It was up to everyone to protect his or her health, using tips like these:

There was a time when you could smoke on airplanes, in your hospital room, while reading in the library or watching a movie. If you watched Mad Men, you noticed in horror that pregnant women smoked and also indulged in their kids’ rooms. Times have certainly changed. It is not all settled, however, and politicians must deal with the tobacco industry on various levels. They support campaigns on Facebook and many favored policies. As a huge conglomerate, they need to be recognized for their monetary power. Constituents of these politicians have another story to tell regarding health problems. They either have asthma or know someone who suffers from respiratory ailments. There are definitely both sides of the issue at hand.

Everyone has a right to smoke whether you practice the habit or not. There is no question about that. But they don’t have the right to harm others. I support the laws completely. Political candidates sometimes skirt the issue unless asked point blank. They don’t want to attack big tobacco that might be a supporter financially of their campaigns. They have been known to do this on a widespread basis. It won’t result in a repeal of the laws; I guarantee that. The genie has been let out of the bottle. They do want to incur another type of attack. There is a media campaign afoot about the production of enticing edible products for kids that lead to addiction. God knows what is in these ersatz candies.

I tell the politicians I advise to form a position on all sides of the cigarette/youth question in the event this should arise at a press conference or while running for re-election. I don’t want them to lie but I also don’t want them to jeopardize their popularity with non-smokers. Maybe an evasive response would be satisfactory. Something that shows neutrality. It is a touchy issue and difficult to discuss. The best defense might be to stop receiving funding from the major companies. This is particularly a problem in tobacco-producing states. In these areas, it is all but impossible to avoid association with the industry. Negativity might lose someone an election. You would have to make a strong appeal to non-smokers and there are certainly millions of them