On Monday, my wife wrote an entry concerning a little bill that the Senate just passed. There seems to be a lot of mixed emotions in our society concerning smoking. Although I’ve heard a lot of uproar from the smoking community about this bill, I don’t see the harm. It actually seems pretty toothless as I read it. You can read the bill yourself to decide what you think about it, but for our purposes here, I’m going to reference the summary published by the Associated Press thirteen hours ago. They lay out the provisions of the bill as follows:
_ Creates a tobacco control center within the FDA and gives the FDA authority to regulate the content, marketing and sale of tobacco products to protect public health.
Alright. That could be good or bad. As it stands, the tobacco companies are already controlled on these standards to a pretty strict degree. It sounds as if there’s no more than a shift of control.
_ Requires tobacco companies and importers to reveal all product ingredients and seek FDA approval for any new tobacco products.
So, there will have to be an ingredient list on the side of your pack of cigarettes? That actually sounds like a good thing to me. With the stuff I like to smoke, that ingredient list will likely read “tobacco.”
_ Allows the FDA to change tobacco product content to protect the public health.
‘Change tobacco product content?’ As long as there’s still tobacco in it, I predict it will still sell and be enjoyed by many.
_ Bans the use of flavors, including candies and fruit flavors, in tobacco products.
_ Aims to prevent sales to minor by requiring direct, face-to-face transactions between retailer and consumers. Limits advertising that could attract young smokers.
…because, seriously! Little kids freely buying smokes is an epidemic problem in today’s world! You know, this might be a worthy thing to legislate if it weren’t already illegal. How long ago were they forced to do away with Joe Camel for the same reasons? It looks as though this is a pretty universally legislated deal at the state and local levels. This merely preempts local laws with Federal. Seriously, this is not 1957, and why do they always try to make illegal stuff more illegal? Is it out of fear or what? It’s no secret where I stand on the issue of children smoking. Even so, it does not seem like a present enough problem to further legislate. If you have stories of children buying smokes at the corner store in your neighborhood, please do share. I’m not aware of any in recent history.
_ Strengthens warning labels.
Because you know that will affect the flavor or draw of your smokes. Or, do they mean using a physically stronger material with the Surgeon General’s warning printed on it? That would stiffen up the pack nicely and protect your smokes better! We’ve already learned to ignore that crap, so what’s the big deal?
_ Bars the use of expressions such as “light, “mild” or “low” that give the impression that a tobacco product poses less of a health risk.
This is the biggest clue that it’s liberal legislation – changing the semantics. If they perceive that the language might be wrong, they will change the language altogether. This goes for if you are describing race/ethnicity, the status on someone’s disabilities, or describing the idea that the climate of the Earth may or may not undergo change over long periods of time, either naturally or not, in a straight line or as a matter of cycle. Frankly, I think that we should all just say it like it is. If that offends you, get over it. So, there won’t be ‘light,’ ‘mild,’ or ‘low.’ I like what The Onion has to say about it.
_ Establishes user fees on tobacco companies to pay for the new regulations.
The tobacco companies have been forced to pay for stuff for ages now. This is no different. Frankly, I can’t really disagree with taxes on luxury items. If they were taxing the crap out of necessities, I would have different things to say about it. But, we’re talking about TOBACCO! If you don’t want to pay the taxes, simply QUIT SMOKING!!
And finally, we get to the crown jewel of the bill:
_ Prevents the FDA from banning nicotine or tobacco products.
Heh, heh, heh. Checkmate, baby! The bill actually reads that the Senate will have the sole power to ban tobacco by vote. They (they the government, that is) have been trying to ban tobacco for ages! This bill actually makes tobacco safer from extinction than it has been since the natives were smoking it in peace pipes!
I don’t believe that tobacco is nearly as dangerous as we are led to believe. Not even the NCI has the slanted stats to back it up. You may agree or disagree with me as you see fit on that point. Regardless, in a nutshell, this bill will:
1. Take steps towards removing urea, formaldehyde, and other tobacco additives that don’t belong there anyway, and hold the tobacco manufacturers accountable to their customers.
2. Eliminate ‘sweetened’ (IMHO ‘garbage’) tobacco products, and make it more illegal to sell tobacco to kids.
3. Change the semantics on the pack, so you will better understand that smoking is bad for you.
4. Raise the price of tobacco – I’m honestly not thrilled about that one.
5. Keep tobacco from becoming contraband.
I just feel like there are bigger things to worry about right now.