September 27, 2004

Delayed Morality

Isn’t it interesting to see the US Government finally taking the major tobacco companies to court? And isn’t it strange, given that the dangers of smoking and associated civil lawsuits have been known for decades, that they would take action now, and not before?

I’d always assumed that the tobacco companies and the tobacco farmers were just like the oil companies, with powerful Washington lobbyists and political sway, and that’s why they escaped federal cases. So what’s changed? Has the Bush administration been smitten with a fit of altruism?

Alas, and of course not. The tobacco industry is in decline in the USA. Not in terms of consumers as much as producers. Much of the arable land in the South that used to be planted with tobacco is now planted with other crops because tobacco is produced far more cheaply in other, poorer and less regulated countries. So the farmers’ interest lobby no longer needs to promote tobacco subsidies; in actual fact, the former tobacco farmers are now looking for government assistance packages to help them covert to other crops.

Just like this silly country. If what is written on tobacco packages is true: “smoking causes 7 times more deaths than car accidents every year” then one would imagine that any clear-minded government would say “You know, let’s just ban tobacco.” Instead of spending, say, millions of dollars immunising against one strain of an illness like meningitis, which will kill maybe 10 people a year, maybe we could bite the bullet and declare tobacco an illegal drug, which would save hundreds of lives each year and also mitigate the suffering of related conditions like heart disease, glue ear and asthma.

Don’t get me wrong. I only just quit smoking cigarettes, and I enjoy cigars. But come on, really! If tobacco is killing your citizens and maiming others, through choice or through passive smoking, then as a responsible country you have to get rid of it. I haven’t heard a single positive thing about smoking cigarettes. It doesn’t get you high. It doesn’t taste nice. It doesn’t kill pain or ease anxiety. It is only social when you’re doing it with other smokers. It doesn’t have any accepted health benefits.

“This product will make you cough and stink and die. Use of this product may also kill other people, especially children and the elderly. You are contributing to pollution, the over-stretched healthcare system, and exploitation of the poor around the world.”

But the thing is, dire warnings don’t make any difference. When I smoked I used to request packages with different warnings on them just to collect the set. When you’re addicted to something you lose the logic circuits in your mind. I’ll happily smoke a packet with a label “Smoking Kills” but I will only buy organic fruits and veges to avoid all those nasty pesticides, and I puff contentedly on my cigar while checking earnestly with the waiter to make sure that steak is BSE-free…

Posted by phreq at September 27, 2004 10:14 AM | TrackBack

Once again the fudge did not happen (what is WRONG with me?) btu I did give her something to give to you so if you email me with your address I will email it to her and she can drop it off. Or you can pick it up from her, same place that I was staying.

Posted by: giffy at September 28, 2004 01:31 PM

yay! only 3 more sleeps to go! what time do you get in? we must share a bottle of wine or 2 and gossip while i should be writing my research essay ;)

Posted by: sok at September 30, 2004 03:05 PM

Jen hun? I sent a big envelope to the last addie you gave me dear, in christchurch, please tell me you are still there at it, I sure hope you will get it. many hugs missing you, Tracy

Posted by: tracy at September 30, 2004 03:57 PM

Don't worry sweet :) I forgives you! *hug*

Posted by: phreq at October 4, 2004 11:16 AM


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