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13 Dec

Why Is Smoking Even Legal

The FDA is prepared to set a maximum nicotine content in cigarettes and certain other tobacco products to make them less addictive and discourage smokers from the habit. Despite a general trend toward smoking cessation, smoking remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States. The FDA hopes that a new limit on nicotine levels in cigarettes will help people quit smoking or avoid the habit altogether. Paul J. Richards / AFP on Getty Images Hide caption The FDA notes that 480,000 people die each year from smoking-related diseases. Overall, he says, “Smoking costs nearly $300 billion a year in direct health care and loses productivity.” “You breathe [toxins] into your lungs,” he said. “Smoking is a cause of real and serious diseases, cancer, especially lung cancer, stroke, heart attack and respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and emphysema. For a lifelong smoker, about half can expect to die prematurely from the consequences of smoking. Yet tobacco is sold legally in virtually every country in the world and, after decades of understanding its harms, it remains not only legal in Canada, but also very accessible and cost-effective (for everyone but the consumer). Cigarettes may eventually disappear until, hopefully, 0% of the population uses them, but right now there`s no better option than keeping them on the shelves.

Now, industry lawyers seem to be loading their guns much closer to home. Ireland has committed to introducing plain packaging before the end of this year, and its Health Minister, Dr James Reilly, is provocative and also for personal reasons. His brother died of lung cancer and his father died of a stroke. Both were heavy smokers. “I`m 100 percent confident that [the industry] will take legal action,” he told me. “I already know that the lawyers have been retained by the tobacco industry, so we cannot keep their services. But we expected it, so we kept the best [lawyers] before this fight started. It would be an extraordinary society that would put the intellectual property rights of multinational corporations above the right to life of citizens, especially children. This is a nation that stands on its own two feet and we will protect our children. There is no longer any debate in the public mind about whether cigarettes are harmful or not.

ABC News reported in the article “President Obama Signs Anti-Smoking Act” that “according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 440,000 people die prematurely each year from smoking, with about 49,000 of these deaths attributable to secondhand smoke.”  In addition, the American Lung Association reports that “smoking is directly responsible for approximately 90% of lung cancer deaths and approximately 80-90% of deaths from COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis).” Others are less convinced. Gerard Hastings, professor of social marketing at the University of Stirling, has big reservations, including about how e-cigarettes are advertised on TV and featured at sponsored sporting events, just as cigarettes used to be. “There is a danger with the very evocative marketing that they interest children in nicotine consumption and therefore smoking.” But instead of quitting smoking — and using nicotine — Altria and other tobacco companies want those smokers to become customers for other tobacco products. Second-hand smoke causes lung cancer, heart disease and stroke in non-smokers. In babies and children, it causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), low birth weight, respiratory and ear infections, and more severe asthma attacks. But cigarettes are not a new product. They are perfectly legal in all 50 states, and they will remain so. That`s why two cigarette events last week are so educational. Last week, the second event took place in New York City, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for a law that would require merchants to hide cigarettes sold in their stores. So the cigarette companies are right when they say that the government is overstepping by demanding foul images on their packaging.

Freedom of expression is not just about our right to say whatever we want; It also refers to our protection from the government forcing us to say things against our will. Even convicted murderers, when they speak in court before sentencing, do not have to say that they are guilty. The government has the right to create, publish and disseminate the strongest anti-smoking campaigns it can imagine, but cigarette companies make a compelling case that as long as their product is legal, they should not be forced to print dismissive images on their packaging. Too many times, I opened the door to my siblings smoking on the deck and was greeted by “Come back, Jane. You don`t want to breathe that. Smoking tobacco has no health benefits. Nothing. It can be argued that nicotine, one of the thousands of compounds in tobacco smoke, may have beneficial effects on certain cognitive functions and may even confer some neuroprotection (1), but getting nicotine from tobacco products can be compared to sucking an exhaust pipe to get oxygen – it`s there, But it won`t do you any good.

It`s really hard to prove that someone died from secondhand smoke, most of the time people die from other things and not from secondhand smoke. These figures on deceased passive smokers are false Despite its report, the government has yet to say it will go ahead with the legislation, although it is “inclined” to do so.