why is smoking legal if it kills you

Barbara Campling, MD, Medical Oncologist, responds:
The evidence that smoking can kill comes from many sources, and the evidence is very strong and very compelling. There are literally thousands of substances in cigarette smoke, many of which have been shown to be very potent cancer-causing chemicals. Smoking is the major cause of a variety of cancers, including lung, head and neck cancer, bladder, and a variety of other cancers. alone accounts for nearly 30% of cancer deaths in the Western world, and the vast majority of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking. In addition, smoking can cause premature vascular disease leading to heart attacks and strokes, and it is the major cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoking is by far the most significant cause of premature preventable death in our society. It is estimated that half of regular smokers will die as a result of their addiction. Your next question is an excellent one. If smoking is so deadly, why is it not banned? Certainly if an addictive product like tobacco were being introduced into the market today, it would not stand a chance of being approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Tobacco use became widespread before safeguards were in place to protect people from such noxious products.


When the "Pure Food and Drug Act" was passed in the early 1900's, tobacco was excluded from regulation because it was considered neither a food nor a drug. It has been said that "tobacco is the only legal substance, which when taken as directed leads to death. " It is amazing that the political clout of the major tobacco companies continues to prevent tobacco from being regulated like other addictive substances. The story of how "Big Tobacco" got into this position of power is an intriguing one. Here is a fascinating book that you might like to read on the history of the tobacco industry: "Ashes to Ashes" by Richard Kluger, Vintage Books, Random House Inc, New York, 1996. This book makes the point that "Governments. have themselves become addicted to the cigarette because of the taxes it harvests for them. Cigarettes are the most heavily taxed consumer product in the world. " Yes, tobacco use should be banned, but how to achieve this is another matter. It may prove to be more difficult than moving a mountain. Tobacco companies will now have to admit Б on national television Б that smoking kills.


After 11 years of appeals and delays, a federal court has finally forced tobacco companies Altria, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Philip Morris USA to run a year-long advertising campaign in which they will admit that they tried to make cigarettes more addictive and that smoking kills more people than die from murder, HIV/AIDS, suicide, car crashes, drug overdoses, and alcohol combined, among other messages. The television ads wonБt be particularly flashy, with one example video Б with just text and a robotic reading Б embedded above. But they will be required to appear on all major networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) at primetime at least five times a week for a year beginning this weekend, NBC News. Text ads will also run in more than 50 newspapers across the country, from the New York Times to local outlets like La Voz de Houston and the Northern Kentucky Herald. Tobacco companies will pay for the campaign. In 1999, the US Department of Justice filed a racketeering lawsuit against tobacco companies. In 2006, US District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that tobacco companies must pay for ads admitting wrongdoing.


But tobacco companies held up the ruling through appeals, obtaining major concessions that, for example, let them avoid having to admit that they deliberately lied and manipulated in previous marketing campaigns for cigarettes. And, crucially, the tobacco companies managed to delay the advertising campaign long enough that it now seems like a relic of an old era: As more people get their news and entertainment from digital outlets and streaming services, the ad campaign will air on network television and print newspapers. Given that and the boring nature of the ads, even supporters of the campaign say itБs unclear just what kind of impact it will have. Cliff Douglas of the American Cancer Society told NBC News that the ads may at least anger people about what tobacco companies did, so Бthey donБt want to give their hard earned bucks to Big Tobacco. Б At the very least, the ads will have one effect: After decades of deceptive advertising in which they downplayed and denied the risks of smoking, tobacco companies will finally have to come clean about the deadly dangers of cigarettes. According to the, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in America and kills 480,000 people in the US each year.


In comparison, drug overdoses Б which public health officials now consider a full-blown epidemic due to the Б killed more than 64,000 in 2016. Public health campaigns in the US have for years tried to get people to quit smoking, using, among other tools, warning labels, public smoking bans, and higher taxes on cigarettes. These types of efforts are credited with massively cutting back the smoking rate Б for US adults, from. But as, there is still a lot of room for improvement. For example, cigarette packaging in other countries must have more aggressive warning labels that use graphic images and explicit warnings about the deadly risk of smoking. The US, by contrast, hasnБt updated health warning labels on packs in decades. Some states have also increased the legal age for purchasing cigarettes to 21, which shows will work to stop more people from smoking. But the great majority of states still do not have such a law in place. The court-enforced advertising campaign, then, represents just the latest of the many ongoing efforts to get people to stop using the deadliest consumer product in human history.

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