It’s been a long time coming

At long last, the FDA will be able to regulate tobacco:

The Senate approved landmark legislation today that would give the government sweeping new power to oversee tobacco, a centuries-old product used by 20 percent of Americans yet largely unregulated in this country.

[…..]

For the first time, the $89 billion tobacco industry would have to disclose the ingredients in its products. Under the new authority, the FDA could ban the most harmful of the estimated 6,000 chemicals used in cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products. And it could reduce the amount of nicotine, perhaps to a point where tobacco is no longer addictive and smokers who want to quit can break free more easily. The legislation requires tobacco companies to expand the size of warning labels and include graphic images of the health effects of tobacco.

Advertising and promotion will also would be restricted. Tobacco manufacturers would be unable to use the terms “light,” “mild” and “low” unless they can scientifically prove that the product so labeled is less harmful than standard tobacco.

Does anyone know if Democrats made an effort to do this in 1993-94? If not, why not? Were there too many southerners in their Congressional caucus then to push it through?






69 replies
  1. 1
    KG says:

    20% of people smoke? Wow, that seems rather high given the crusade against smoking the last couple of decades. Then again, I do enjoy me a good cigar.

  2. 2
    SGEW says:

    Looks like I picked the wrong right day to quit smoking.

  3. 3
    John Cole says:

    I think Coburn was right. Giving the FDA control of this is in the best interest of Big tobacco, because now they won’t be outright banned.

  4. 4
    Scruffy McSnufflepuss says:

    This is great news for McCain! Now those Americans who cherish their right to smoke will turn out in force to vote for him this last November!

  5. 5
    Incertus says:

    I don’t remember them doing anything like that in 1993-4, though my memory isn’t the best. But I’d be surprised if they did. Wasn’t that before Big Tobacco started losing all their lawsuits? Jesse Helms still in the Senate? That would have been enough to kill it.

  6. 6
    Max says:

    I quit smoking about 3 years ago and I still sort of miss it. However, most of those times when I miss it involve a cocktail, a blackjack table and me down by a couple hundred.

  7. 7
    gex says:

    @John Cole: Ha! Choose your poison: FDA or DEA.

  8. 8
    slag says:

    @John Cole: And you thought they would someday be banned? In your lifetime?

  9. 9
    passerby says:

    And it could reduce the amount of nicotine, perhaps to a point where tobacco is no longer addictive and smokers who want to quit can break free more easily.

    It’s good news that Big Tobacco will have to cease with all the chemicals, but, reducing the amount of nicotine will only amount to greater consumption in order to maintain a “therapeutic” blood level for most folks who are addicted (higher sales, therefore higher profits which also means increased tax revenue)…unless they’re thinking of making a special brand w/ low nic to help people step down.

    Because why would a person bother smoking a cigarette without it delivering a satisfying level of nicotine?

  10. 10
    Ash says:

    20%? Holy shit. I’m gonna get all high and mighty right now and say I just don’t freaking understand how, with all we know, people can still start smoking.

  11. 11
    steve s says:

    I support regulating tobacco the same as, and no more than, marijuana. Make the companies disclose the additives, stop them from making bullshit claims, but leave the choice of smoking it up to the consumer. We should balance consumer protection with consumer freedom.

  12. 12
    Punchy says:

    The legislation requires tobacco companies to expand the size of warning labels and include graphic images of the health effects of tobacco.

    Can we combine these with the graphic pics of anti-abortionists and get pictures of aborted fetuses smoking Camels?

  13. 13

    Every year in the SOTU clinton would call for giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco. It’s not just “more Southerners in the Democratic Caucus” and “more Republicans in Congress”, the conversation on this has moved a lot. I think the Bloomberg & California smoking bans really pushed the country in the direction of making smoking way less acceptable. In addition subsets of the GOP (Mormons) are not big on smoking.

    I note that even though VA produces a lot of tobacco, both its Senators voted for it, leaving Kay Hagan (from the leading producers) as the only D voting no.

  14. 14
    BarbF says:

    I know there was an attempt to have the FDA regulate tobacco during Clinton, but it obviously wasn’t successful.

    Cigarettes will never be banned, so this is the best move. I’m sure they’re putting additives in to make it more addictive, and heaven only knows what else. This is a huge health benefit. Good for the Dems on this one.

  15. 15

    I’d be willing to jump right on this bandwagon if alcohol were treated in exactly the same fashion. Run the social/economic costs of each and you’ll be astonished. But…

  16. 16
    BarbF says:

    Ah, here it is:

  17. 17
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @passerby:

    Because why would a person bother smoking a cigarette without it delivering a satisfying level of nicotine?

    Because they just drank a beer.

    Because they just got laid.

    Because they need something to do with their hands.

  18. 18
    4tehlulz says:

    79-17. Damn, I never would have guessed it would pass by that wide a margin.

  19. 19
    HumboldtBlue says:

    How about a Big Mac? Now I haven’t eaten a Big Mac in more than a decade, but i don’t recall reading the list of ingredients contained in that burger-like substance, do you? What about the chemicals sold to us to be used to clean our homes, should we know what’s contained in those as well?

    Why stop with cigarettes, I am sure we can find hundreds if not thousands of everyday items that lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and other ills. Smoking tobacco isn’t good for you, it can lead to all sorts of medical issues, along with a thousand other consumer products that are not bound by the rules of the FDA.

  20. 20
    Martin says:

    I’d be willing to jump right on this bandwagon if alcohol were treated in exactly the same fashion. Run the social/economic costs of each and you’ll be astonished.

    I’m not sure what more the FDA would add to the alcohol issue. I don’t think the FDA will be curbing consumption, just regulating the other additives that have adverse health effects. I don’t think there’s any parallel with alcohol.

    Alcohol’s cost is largely in addiction, overconsumption, access and behavioral effects. I don’t see that the FDA has any influence on any of those other than to drop it in the drug schedule somewhere, which puts it in the same general arena as pot.

  21. 21
    The Other Steve says:

    There was a lot of opposition to this and tobacco subsidies not just from Democrats, but notably from Republicans for years.

    The dam started to break in the early 1990s when companies started banning smoking indoors and people had to stand outside. Then in 1996, Katie Couric asked Candidate Bob Dole whether Tobacco was addictive. Republicans claim this killed his candadicy. Now I don’t remember 1996 quite like that, but that’s what they claim. This was right around when the tobacco memos leaked, which led to…

    In the late 1990s various states started filing lawsuits against the Tobacco companies, using as evidence memos leaked which indicated the companies knew their products were addictive. Florida, Minnesota and even Kansas were among them.

    In 1998 the Fed banned smoking on air flights.

    Then in 1999 the USDOJ filed their own lawsuit.

    Everybody has since abandoned defending smoking.

  22. 22
    Anne Laurie says:

    20%? Holy shit. I’m gonna get all high and mighty right now and say I just don’t freaking understand how, with all we know, people can still start smoking.

    The percentages are skewed heavily towards the poorest and least educated Americans — IIRC, something closer to 40% of the lowest income quintile and less than 10% of the highest. Tobacco is a cheap stimulant, smoking / chewing helps reduce hunger pangs (that gets lots of teenage fashionistas hooked), and nicotine helps you focus. (Fun fact: Diagnoses of adult ADD and openings of Starbuck franchises graph inversely to the number of no-smoking venues.) And the shit’s as addictive as heroin. High school & college kids start smoking to be “cool” and “rebellious”, or to stave off the ‘freshman 15’ weight gain. The ones with the most to lose, those who plan careers in non-smoking office buildings, either don’t start or manage to quit; they’re also the ones who can afford prescription patches, nicorette gum, company-sponsored quit programs, etc. The kids who look forward to 50 years of humping crates at Walmart or 12-hour-a-day waitron shifts don’t have as much incentive.

  23. 23
    The Other Steve says:

    @HumboldtBlue:

    Here’s your Big Mac Details:
    http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/nutritionexchange

    100% Beef Patty
    100% pure USDA inspected beef; no fillers, no extenders. Prepared with grill seasoning (salt, black pepper).

    Big Mac Bun
    Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, enzymes), water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, soybean oil and/or partially hydrogenated soybean oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide, soy flour), calcium propionate and sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin, sesame seed.
    CONTAINS: WHEAT AND SOY.

    Pasteurized Process American Cheese
    Milk, water, milkfat, cheese culture, sodium citrate, salt, citric acid, sorbic acid (preservative), sodium phosphate, artificial color, lactic acid, acetic acid, enzymes, soy lecithin (added for slice separation).
    CONTAINS: MILK AND SOY LECITHIN.

    Big Mac Sauce
    Soybean oil, pickle relish [diced pickles, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, vinegar, corn syrup, salt, calcium chloride, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate (preservative), spice extractives, polysorbate 80], distilled vinegar, water, egg yolks, high fructose corn syrup, onion powder, mustard seed, salt, spices, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate (preservative), mustard bran, sugar, garlic powder, vegetable protein (hydrolyzed corn, soy and wheat), caramel color, extractives of paprika, soy lecithin, turmeric (color), calcium disodium EDTA (protect flavor).
    CONTAINS: WHEAT, EGG AND SOY.

    Lettuce

    Pickle Slices
    Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate (preservative), natural flavors (plant source), polysorbate 80, extractives of turmeric (color).

    Onions
    Chopped onions.

  24. 24
    passerby says:

    I just don’t freaking understand how, with all we know, people can still start smoking.

    Not that I can fully explain it, but I’m going to guess its the same thing as people continuing to eat fast food and other junk foods, loaded with grease, salt and sugar, then go home and sit in front of the telly and/or computer, while sucking down sodas loaded with high fructose corn syrup and phosphoric acid and/or laced with Mosanto’s most profitable toxin, aspartame. Total disregard for their own health and well being. Mind boggling.

    This amounts to madness given what we know about obesity and sedentary lifestyles and as a dietitian, I view this as a much more prevalent cause of cancer–colon, lymph and others that develop in the stagnant fluids of a sedentary body.

    Meanwhile, there are those who have completely bought in to the presumption that every smoker will get lung cancer.

    For me, well being is about moderation in consumption and exercise and a generally healthy outlook on life.

    In my view, the final analysis is that it is the responsibilty of the individual to make choices that lead to health. The FDA and DEA (technically speaking) exist for purposes of public safety–not public health. Were they concerned with public health, they’d ban tobacco, alcohol, fast food, msg, and a host of artificial food additives. But we all know that’ll never happen.

    Not to mention the drugs that Big Pharma and their minions–MDs–push on the public that cause the body more harm than good.

    FDA–Schmef dee ay.

  25. 25
    Irrelevant,YetPoignant says:

    You’ll pry my (cough) cigarettes out of my (cough choke) cold (choke gasp hack) dead . . .

  26. 26
    JD Rhoades says:

    In my corner of North Carolina, farmers have seen this coming for a long time. There are still a few die-hards, but for the most part, the fields I drive by that used to be tobacco as far as the eye could see are now corn and soybeans. The ones, that is, that aren’t cheap shitty housing developments.

  27. 27
    Anna Granfors says:

    I finally quit smoking three months ago via the usage of “Swedish snus” (do a quick Wiki search, and click the medical links), a Swedish version of snuff made of tobacco that they’ve pasteurized instead of cured, and taken harmful nitrosamines out of, rather than good ol’ American addition of chemistry to heighten the freebase effect. It comes in small pouches that you place between upper lip and gum, thus no ballplayer-style expectorating.

    I, of course, have no guarantee that just because the Swedish Food Association regulates the product that it’s less dangerous, but most of the medical literature on Swedish snus says it’s 98% less dangerous than smoking. I’m on the big fat dose now, but am impressed that I’ve had no–NO–cravings since starting this, and am planning on ramping down the nicotine level until I quit, which I’m hopeful will be before the end of the year. (They sell it in doses from 2 mg. to 15 mg.)

    Recently, US tobacco companies have started making “snus” (Camel, Marlboro, and a few others) and testing it in a few major markets, but with none of the regulations the Swedes use. Don’t EVEN try them; they suck. I have no doubt that even with FDA “regulation”, they’ll be worse for you than the Swedish version. (But then, the Swedes managed to beat their financial crisis, and, hey, they’re my peeps.)

    Anyway–just can’t quit, but really want to? Tired of paying $50-80/carton for cigarettes? Do the Wiki on “Swedish snus”. (Oh, yeah–if you order from Sweden, your nicotine costs will be approximately 15-20% than what you’re paying now. (And I’m not affiliated with or compensated by any Swedish snus manufacturers, just a woman of Swedish extraction who’s proud of her country for coming up with an eminently sane “risk reduction” strategy.)

  28. 28
    J sub D says:

    Make it prescription only. Register the addicts with the government and only allow them to purchase the product. Drive the cost up with taxation to $1 a cigarette.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  29. 29
    gbear says:

    @Ash:

    20%? Holy shit. I’m gonna get all high and mighty right now and say I just don’t freaking understand how, with all we know, people can still start smoking.

    You haven’t been to one of my family dinners. My dad died a couple years ago from a lifetime of smoking, but all four of my sisters and all of their husbands and all of their adult children and their spouses all smoke. I’m the only one in the family that has never started. One of my sisters has a three year old daughter and I tend to hang out near her because everyone’s agreed to not expose the ‘baby’ to second hand smoke. Before she came along, I’d smell like I just left a bar when I went home from family dinners.

    About five years ago, I had a whole string of dreams where I was a smoker. I vividly recall sitting down and lighting up and really enjoying it, but I never had to inhale real smoke in my dreams.

  30. 30
    NonyNony says:

    @HumboldtBlue:

    Why stop with cigarettes, I am sure we can find hundreds if not thousands of everyday items that lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and other ills

    How many of those other things are drugs, like nicotine, which under almost all other circumstances are either treated as illegal substances (and under the purview of the DEA) or as legal substances and regulated by the FDA. The only reason nicotine hasn’t been regulated as any other drug in the past is because of the special exemption that tobacco farmers got from Democrats and tobacco companies got from Republicans (ah – smell the bi-partisanship).

    Also, your Big Mac example doesn’t work because the beef in the patty is already heavily regulated and inspected by the USDA. And yeah, the low quality meat in those patties are in fact 100% beef – low quality cuts of beef, but beef nevertheless.

  31. 31
    Comrade Stuck says:

    I just don’t freaking understand how, with all we know, people can still start smoking.

    Cold Beer – that, and growing up in Kentucky where you were communist if you didn’t smoke.

    That’s what got me started early on. Then the Army, “smoke em if you got” sealed the deal. I quit smoking 8 years ago, but still dip skoal, but not a lot. I like the idea of de-nicotined tobacco. If done across the board and slowly, a fourth of the country would become former drug addicts in time.

    A bit Pavlovian, but so is Cable News.

  32. 32
    Bostondreams says:

    @passerby:

    For me, well being is about moderation in consumption and exercise and a generally healthy outlook on life.

    Well said. Personally, I love a good cigar once or twice a month, relaxing outside, reading a book and drinking a beer. I don’t do it often, but when I do, damn it feels good.

  33. 33
    JD Rhoades says:

    Then the Army, “smoke em if you got” sealed the deal.

    I wasn’t in the Army, but in a lot of the places I worked as a youth, the only way you could legitimately claim a break was if you were “going out back to catch a smoke.” Otherwise, you were regarded as just goofing off.

  34. 34
    geg6 says:

    Even though I’m a smoker with no intention of quitting any time in the near future, I support this. Just as I’ve supported indoor smoking bans everywhere but in a person’s home. I enjoy smoking and, yes, it helps me stay thin by suppressing my appetite. But I do worry about all the additives and the manipulation of the nicotine to increase the addiction. So getting rid of the additives and decreasing nicotine levels are fine moves, IMHO. And I don’t agree that people will just increase the amount they smoke. Perhaps at first they will because of deprivation of their optimal nicotine level, but eventually the body will adjust and I think people will go back to their usual level of smoking or they will cut back or quit because it will be easier due to a lower level addiction.

  35. 35
    passerby says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    AL, I appreciated your comment but would like to make a technical correction:

    Tobacco is a cheap stimulant,

    No more it ain’t.

    As something of an aside, nicotine (cigarettes), caffeine (coffee and tea),and theobromines ((?)chocolate) are widely used, legal alkyloids that are consumed by humans throughout the planet and throughout history.

  36. 36
    JGabriel says:

    @passerby:

    … why would a person bother smoking a cigarette without it delivering a satisfying level of nicotine?

    Because it’s: LACED WITH CRACK!

    .

  37. 37

    @geg6: I support your choice…but, as someone who watched his mom die of lung cancer (in the room to the last breath), let me urge you to think hard about it. There is nothing good about that way of going, and my mother left behind some people who are still deeply pissed off that she didn’t stick around longer.

    Good luck.

  38. 38
    jl says:

    Nicotine is much more addictive than alcohol. It is in the class of cocaine, and meth and opium. Somewhat less addictive than heroin. So, that is why it is different than booze, or Big Macs, and rock and roll music.

    I don’t think anyone will propose banning tobacco, or nicotine, there is very little support for it, even among people working in tobacco control.

    If you made nicotine replacement cheaper, I think everyone would be chewing gum and sucking the lozenges. I used nicotine gum and lozenges to kick smoking. Much better, longer lasting high (oops…. I didn’t say that! Now it will be banned!).

    I don’t understand why nicotine replacement products are so expensive. Nicotine is not a high tech drug. If you cut out burning the leaves and sucking the crud into your lungs, or chewing it, most of the health risks go away. I read that nicotine alone is mildly bad for the heart, but just using it alone is not nearly as bad for the heart as smoking. And almost all excess cancer risk and all excess emphysema risk is removed.

    So, break out the gum!

  39. 39
    DougJ says:

    How about a Big Mac? Now I haven’t eaten a Big Mac in more than a decade, but i don’t recall reading the list of ingredients contained in that burger-like substance, do you?

    When they start putting nicotine into Big Macs, the FDA should get involved.

  40. 40
    patrick says:

    Was this tried in the 90’s?
    Yes, as noted above the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against fda regulation unless passed through congress, and you couldn’t get it through congress. What changed? Cigarette companies started losing more law suits.
    If the fda regulates it, and there are big clear warning signs, it will be tougher to sue tobacco companies, so now tobacco companies are in favor of regulation they were against.

  41. 41
    Nancy Darling says:

    I don’t know anyone who, because he smokes too much, gets in the car and drives, risking other drivers on the road OR goes home and beats up his wife and kids—this happens at all levels of society. Just saying.

  42. 42
    trizzlor says:

    I live in NYC so it’s probably not representative, but most of the people I know who smoke do it primarily for reasons other than nicotine:

    social reasons (waiting outside a bar, etc.),
    because it’s an acceptable way to take 5mins off from work,
    nothing to do with your hands while walking,
    it has the image of coping with stress

    It may sound silly, but many smokers I know don’t even particularly like the buzz and would be equally happy with a drug-less smoke.

  43. 43
    mak says:

    This happened mainly for one reason: Philip Morris (Marlboros) let it happen. It locks them into place as the once and forever market dominator, and once they become a regulated industry, they’ll be forever protected by the gubmint stamp of approval (not that they weren’t already protected). It’s really hard to sue a regulated industry out of business.

    As for the possibility that de-nicotizing butts will only lead to greater cigarette consumption, that’s an interesting theory, but not likely. Before Philip Morris figured out how to jack up the nicotine in Marlboros (with, I believe, ammonia) to deliver a turbo charged boost of the stuff with every cowboy killer, people managed to smoke plenty, even become addicted. But it was only after PM converted cigarettes into the tobacco equivalent of crack, essentially free-basing the nicotine in tobacco, that PM took over the cigarette business.

    It wasn’t that there is more nicotine in Marlboros, but that the nicotine in ‘boros hits your brain harder and faster. If PM (and everybody else) is required to de-crackify their cigarettes, it’s more likely that the “therapeutic dose” will be changed/lowered than it is that smokers will smoke more to achieve the old crackified nicotine dosages. There will surely be some wicked withdrawal headaches along the way, though.

  44. 44
    Cyrus says:

    @Ash:

    20%? Holy shit. I’m gonna get all high and mighty right now and say I just don’t freaking understand how, with all we know, people can still start smoking.

    Only anecdata, but I started around 2000 or 2001, well after all the public health campaigns. I know I had at least tried cigarettes before then, but not seriously.

    I have no illusions about the health risks; my great-aunt died last year of emphysema. However, she outlived all of my grandparents. One of them basically drank herself to death and another died of Alzheimer’s. (Pneumonia, technically, but when you get pneumonia because you’re hooked up to a respirator, and if you’re hooked up to a respirator because you’ve forgotten how to breathe on your own…) Death is never pretty, with the possible exception of vampires.

    Besides, I’m a special case in that I can smoke in moderation: there was this one time that I smoked a pack in less than a week, but I believe it was only one time. I gather that this ability of mine is unusual. I have gone without smoking for more than one several-month period since starting; in some cases as parts of bargains with friends, in other cases just because I had had enough for a while or wanted to reassure myself that I could still do it.
    @Thomas Levenson:

    I support your choice…but,

    How do you support it, do you buy him smokes now and then?

    Maybe that’s needlessly sarcastic and/or nitpicky, fine, but your comment seems needlessly wishy-washy. I don’t support lots of choices made by other people. I don’t see why you feel obligated to.

    (Or do you merely mean that you think it should remain legal? Fair enough, but again, “I support [x, y and z]” being used to mean something like passively agreeing with it gets needlessly overused. It’s annoying.)

  45. 45
    HumboldtBlue says:

    I don’t think anyone will propose banning tobacco, or nicotine, there is very little support for it, even among people working in tobacco control.

    Tom Coburn proposed that ban on the floor of the Senate last week. The banning of tobacco in both cigarettes and smokeless forms.

    Again, if folks want to smoke, drink, snort coke or inject heroin it’s not up to a government agency or even their well-intentioned neighbors to keep them from doing so. We have rivers of alcohol, mountains of blow, bushels of weed and acres of poppy fields to use as examples of how prohibition does not work.

    That the FDA will regulate nicotine means we should allow them to regulate the purity of heroin, coke along with the their supposed regulation of the chemical compounds dished out by Doctors every day.

    It’s just another facet of prohibition, and prohibition just doesn’t work, or have we won the war on drugs? (not the good kind, like alcohol and nicotine and caffeine, but the bad kind …)

  46. 46
    jl says:

    @mak: Speaking as an ex-smoker, no amount of plain old natural nicotine, whether smoked or gum-chewed, or patched, or what you want, can replace that big hit you get just seconds after you take that first delicious puff from a cracked up manufactured cigarette. That was what was hard about quitting smoking. I learned to prefer the longer lasting, steadier, buzz of gum. Then it was relatively easier (but still not easy) to taper off and be done with the stupid addiction altogether.

    And, I think you are right, they used ammonia to get the tobacco ready to free-base the nicotine when you lit up.

  47. 47
    geg6 says:

    Thomas Levenson: I am sorry about your mother and I appreciate your concern. I am well aware of the health risks but I am one who is a big believer in several things in regard to my smoking. First, we all have to die of something and it’s pretty much a lock that I’m going to die of cancer since every single person on both sides of my family have done with the exception of my dad, a non-smoker who died of a massive heart attack but not before he had his own bout with cancer. If it’s not of the lungs, it will be breast, bone, cervical, ovarian, pancreatic, colon, or liver. Pick one. Second, I am not a heavy smoker (less than a pack a day) and I eat very healthfully and exercise every day. My doctor marvels at my stress tests as they show me, at age 50 and a smoker, to have the blood pressure, heart rate, and lung capacity of someone decades younger. Doesn’t cancel out the smoking, but I’m not showing any effects yet. Third, I am single (never married) with no kids, so whatever happens to me affects no one but me. And lastly, I anticipate the new tobacco overlord’s regulation with happiness because I am hopeful that smoking will be a bit less deadly for those of us who actually like the habit for reasons above and beyond nicotine addiction. Anti-smoking crusaders will accept none of my reasons, but I care about their opinions about as much as I want a husband. Which is not at all.

  48. 48
    jl says:

    @HumboldtBlue: Coburn was doing a stunt.

    Regulation is not banning, it is not prohibition. I think it would be better to regulate illegal drugs and provide a safe place to take it, and provide cheap medical therapy for addiction (for those who wise up and want to quit).

    That is how Netherlands, Denmark, and now Portugal handle it. It works relatively well. That approach far is better than prohibition, and better than our destructive war on drugs.

    Though, to be fair, I do not know enough about this particular bill to know whether the this FDA bill can be turned into a protection racket for big tobacco or not. I would prefer the U.S. explicitly take a Netherlands/Denmark/Portugal approach for all addictive drugs.

  49. 49
    bago says:

    Oddly enough, an Aunt of mine just died from cancer this morning. Looks like I picked the right week to stop drinking.

  50. 50
    Brachiator says:

    And it could reduce the amount of nicotine, perhaps to a point where tobacco is no longer addictive and smokers who want to quit can break free more easily.

    What, then, would be the point of smoking? This is as futile a proposition as addictionless heroin or alcohol-free beer.

    Some part of life is supposed to be hazardous to your health.

  51. 51
    Patrick says:

    I’d be willing to jump right on this bandwagon if alcohol were treated in exactly the same fashion. Run the social/economic costs of each and you’ll be astonished. But…

    Actually, Medicare did study the effects of alcohol on medical costs and they found very heavy drinkers were expensive. But they also found moderate drinkers were $4000-$5000 cheaper (over five years), than non-drinkers. So, I guess the government should be given vouchers for 1 drink a day to seniors, if you do the cost/benefit analysis.

    Alcohol has its own regulatory agency, it was not outside of the regulatory framework like tobacco. For instance, alcohol content is on every label, unlike nicotine content.

  52. 52
    geg6 says:

    Brachiator: I know lots of people, including myself, who enjoy aspects of being a smoker that go above and beyond any addiction. Like one comment mentioned above, I have friends who only smoke once a week or once a month. They are obviously not addicted, but choose to do it anyway every now and then.

  53. 53
    Rainy says:

    Wow, we were waiting for Congress on this. They have too much power. How can I trust a part of the government that can vote itself a raise? We need to have a referendum on some of the legislation. Something needs to change.

  54. 54
    passerby says:

    @Thomas Levenson:

    TL, my sympathies and condolences to you and your family.

    My mother died a few weeks ago. She had smoked for over 63 years. At the beginning of May, I went down to stay with her in the hospital after her pleuridesis (sp). They discharged her home stating that the procedure was successful.

    A week later she returned to the hospital still complaining of pain only to be diagnosed with metastatic cancer–she (and they)had kept her secret well.

    She was diagnosed on a Tuesday and died, at home on a morphine drip, on that Friday in the presence of her husband, sister, daughter and grand daughter. I truly empathize with your witnessing your mother’s passing and am glad I did not get back down to NO in time.

    Surprisingly, the cancer was in the liver and bone–not the lungs. I’m not pointing to this as vindication. She did not take care to get proper nutrition preferring to live her retirement on coffee and cigarettes in front of the TV. Certainly her 60 some years of smoking was a contributing factor but up until her death, she exhibited only symptoms consistent with being and old lady. She was 82.

    Two adages come to mind:

    Self love is not so vile a sin as self neglect.

    and,

    The cart that overturns on the road ahead is a warning to the one behind it.

    I may quit smoking but for purposes of cost, not health. Meanwhile, I hold my personal diet and exercise regimen (and BMI) up against any 52 year-old non smoker.

    And I’m not in denial about the impact of smoking on health, my defiance is aimed at the federal government and institutionalized agencies of medicine who seek to demonize smoking while ignoring the presence of crap factories at every intersection in every American town that make billions of dollars and provide millions with jobs.

    The Fed doesn’t care about the health of people whether they smoke or eat junk food or both. The FDA wouldn’t be taking this action unless it means power and money for them.

    Rant over. thanks for listening.

  55. 55
    blogreeder says:

    The FDA will have to ban smoking. They’ll have to. How many people died from cyclamates? Nobody. If those statistics are right and 400,000 people die a year from smoking then the FDA will have to ban it.
    Great, another prohibition and all the crime that comes with it.

  56. 56
    mak says:

    @jl: Interesting that you say “delicious” regarding our old friends, since when you think about it, there isn’t really any ‘taste’ to speak of. If anything, one’s favorite cigarette was simply the one that you’d gotten used to; when you tried someone elses brand, it usually ‘tasted’ like shit (which is probably the best description of their actual ‘flavor,’ if any). Maybe we use the terms “taste” and “delicious” because the nico-hit goes to the same part of the brain as food, or perhaps we just use those terms because we use our mouths to administer the drug. My buddy George likes to take a drag, then exclaim, “Mmmmmmm, Fresh!, (and it’s not even a menthol.)

  57. 57
    jl says:

    @mak: Yes, I agree with you. The free-based nicotine hit some part of my brain that made it feel just great. I read someplace that they have figured out how nicotine, opium, herion, meth, cocaine, all produce molecules that pop in and out of the pleasures centers of your brain, cause the brain to change to demand more addictive chemicals to feel good. Neuroscientists can predict consumption patterns, specific withdrawal symptoms and relapse from how this addictive molecules pop in and out and circulate around in your brain. But I forget the details.

    Anyway, now I find the smell of a lighted cigarette disgusting, and cannot imagine inhaling the smoke.

    I still love the smell of cured tobacco though. Sometimes when I walk by a cigar store I will go in for minute and take a sniff.

  58. 58
    Southern says:

    I am sure that most people who applaud this have their own vices.
    Someday they will come for you.

  59. 59
    Comrade Stuck says:

    addictive molecules pop in and out and circulate around in your brain.

    Aunt Milly Whitehead of the Kansas Church of the Pentecostal Jesus Beavers says them molecules are the devils playthings.

  60. 60
    Brachiator says:

    @geg6:

    Brachiator: I know lots of people, including myself, who enjoy aspects of being a smoker that go above and beyond any addiction. Like one comment mentioned above, I have friends who only smoke once a week or once a month. They are obviously not addicted, but choose to do it anyway every now and then.

    Americans make a fetish of addiction (loss of control, maybe). There was a chart that I saw reproduced in a book on health by Dr Dean Edell that rated various drugs on a 1 to 5 scale on harm, intoxication level, dependence, addictiveness. There were few drugs that rated high on all points. And marijuana was less harmful than tobacco (and I am not angling for legalization here). Some heroin addicts have been productive for years (including doctors and others who can pay to support their habit).

    We are designed to want pleasure, even with some risk of harm. Sometimes it’s just a matter of choosing your poison.

  61. 61
    Trollhattan says:

    Can you imagine tobacco being introduced today to the marketplace? It would probably be some sort of “Herbal Energy Supplement” from Utah, where most of that supplement industry seems to hail from.

    My father picked up the cigarette habit courtesy of his Navy rations in WWII, and didn’t quit until he was diagnosed with metasticized lung cancer that had spread to his brain. He was tough enough to return to work in time to retire at 65, and live four more months.

    The ironic bit is that he missed a total of one day of work due to sickness his entire working life, before the pneumonia that lead to the cancer diagnosis. My mother, luckily enough was able to quit when I was a kid, so made it to nearly 90 and was able to spend time with her granddaughter. And if there were any better reason to quit than to bounce your granddaughter on your knee, I can’t think of it. I’m eternally grateful to have had my father as long as I did but likewise so sad my daughter will never meet him.

    Tax the goddam things up to ten bucks a cigarette, functionally decriminalize or legalize marijuana–and be done with it.

  62. 62
    Some Guy says:

    About time. I have always thought big tobacco was crazy for making such addictive products. There are many people, like me, who enjoy a good cigarette and would smoke casually if we did not reignite a cycle of addiction. I don’t think making a good smoking product that is not willfully dangerous and addictive will destroy the industry. I would really like to know when and how the governing rationality of the tobacco industry developed. It is evil.

  63. 63
    phillygirl says:

    I’d feel better about this development if the FDA — and Congress — weren’t run by prissy, angry people who deep down are getting back at the greaser kids who stole their lunch money half a century ago. What they tell us about “public health” is not so much about health as personal notions of class and morality. And as I write this, dammit, I’m smoking my 28th nicotine-free cigarette of the day, as part of a long-term clinical study of smoking patterns, in desperate search of some pleasure. When I die from smoking their nicotine-less, tar-soaked cigarettes, they will still be happy.

  64. 64
    Church Lady says:

    R J Reynolds has already taken this legislation into account. I’ve smoked Salem Ultra Light 100’s for years and was surprised when, a few months ago, they changed the name to Salem Silver Box 100’s. The Light 100’s are now called Salem Gold Box 100’s, even though the box is actually green, weirdly enough.

  65. 65

    @Patrick:

    Actually, Medicare did study the effects of alcohol on medical costs

    Cool, now why don’t you run the rest of the costs like prisons, spouses meds, lost work, police, courts, ad nauseum. This is no defense of tobacco, but fuck your hypocrisy.

  66. 66
    kwAwk says:

    blogreeder

    The FDA will have to ban smoking. They’ll have to. How many people died from cyclamates? Nobody. If those statistics are right and 400,000 people die a year from smoking then the FDA will have to ban it.
    Great, another prohibition and all the crime that comes with it.

    It is hard to say how much of this is bullshit. I’m sure that this statistic includes all of the aforementioned 80 year olds who died of emphasema or lung cancer after smoking for 60 years.

    There is no guarantee that they would have lived to 81 if they hadn’t have smoked.

    I’m sure it also includes every person who died of heart disease who also happened to smoke.

  67. 67
    Ranger3 says:

    Next they should ban the internet, so that all of us will get lives.

  68. 68
    Lanna Neal says:

    I can’t believe the FDA can try and moniter one more thing?
    They can’t keep our food safe, they have about 20 inspectors who are supposed to go all over the world checking labs that manufacturer pharmacueticals. After researching how the FDA gives a drug an AB rating, it can be put on the market. My research, I found hundreds of articles regarding generic drugs, which as it turns out, many people have had to resort to try and pay for the Brand name drug, because often the generic just is not the same at all. When my prescription was changed from the brand name to generic, I knew right away, something was different. Still, the cost for brand name drugs are so pricey, people and their doctors have to do the best they can with generic model. Who in congress is going to benefit from putting the FDA in charge of tobacco? Yikes, we just never know, who in the government will benefit from something, because we don’t know who ges the “kick backs”.

  69. 69

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