The Old Time Media has latched onto the TSA’s latest escalation in flyer nuisances – strip searches of our exquisite bodies and groin groping of grandma. Outrageous, unnecessary, and so on, but at least the TSA is only a misguided response to a real problem. Not so for the FDA’s latest crusade to make smokers feel like war criminals. New cigarette labels will graphically display the ugly deaths that await some heavy smokers, but they will not provide any new valid evidence, educate anybody, or likely reduce smoking. Instead, the new labels only prove that the government thinks they know better than everyone else and that they have the right to be jerks to prove it.
Some of the proposed cigarette packaging labels
If there is a single adult in the civilized world who does not know smoking is bad for him, it would be a miracle. Everyone knows that smoking is unhealthy, and with the exception of some faux-tough teens, nobody is particularly proud of his smoking habit. The FDA, by the way, did not introduce smoking’s risks to the US. Cigarettes were called “coffin nails” in the early 20th century, long before the FDA existed. Even the earliest European explorers reported tobacco’s harmful effects when used to excess. Since tobacco’s introduction to western civilization, people have known that it is habit forming and unhealthy. The FDA, and its warning labels, did not add to the public knowledge of tobacco’s dangers.
A 1917 postcard
For the past decade, smoking rates have remained about the same when adjusting for the aging US population (as people grow up, they tend to quit smoking, so overall rates have fallen a bit). The FDA’s ever escalating campaign against cigarettes has done little to reduce youth smoking or the overall rate of smoking in the US. Despite radical infringements on the First and Tenth Amendment rights of cigarette companies, about one in five adults still chooses to risk his health by smoking.
Faced with the obvious failure to convince some people to make wise decisions, the government has stepped up its program. Prior labeling stated simple facts (along with untruths about second hand smoke). The new FDA labels presume that words are not persuasive enough, and pictures will do what decades of nagging could not. The new labeling proposal was actually the butt of a joke about overreaching government in the 2005 movie Thank You For Smoking, but nobody ever suspected the government had a sense of humor.
Shout Bits doubts that anybody will learn anything new about smoking’s dangers through these labels. About one in five adults will continue to smoke, labels or not. What the FDA really wants to do is make people feel badly about themselves, and not just smokers. Reviewing the proposed labels, even non-smokers have tracheotomies, die of cancer, and have heart attacks; women cry for many reasons besides second hand smoke. These pictures will remind even non-smokers that the end of life is often cruel and ugly. What a fine downer for every American wherever he goes, care of the government. ‘Gee, that picture of cancer wasting reminds me of my sister.’ ‘That cadaver reminds me of how I found my husband dead of a heart attack last year.’ Thanks, FDA.
The FDA is the worst kind of bossy jerk – someone on a mission. Because Washington bureaucrats discovered that smoking is unhealthy about fifty years after most everyone else, they have the right to ruin everyone’s day with images of death and suffering. Nobody needs or wants to be reminded about human suffering every time someone nearby reaches for a cigarette, but the FDA says it is for our own good and anyone who would rather be left alone is on the side of evil tobacco. Well, smoking is an ugly habit, and it is annoying to non-smokers, but the FDA is far worse because do-gooders on a mission don’t care if they are jerks.