Today on PR Newswire Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Legacy characterized this first anniversary of the FDA Tobacco initiative as a giant step forward.
In any other area of health, this would have been accompanied by some mention of lives saved or fewer at risk but the only metric here is how many new policies have been added to the disagreeable stew already being ladled out in the tobacco control soup kitchen.
The popular response to electronic cigarettes shows that people are not inescapably wedded to cigarettes as the only nicotine delivery devices. When that self directed and officially disparaged search for healthier alternatives is placed beside this year of monumental silliness within tobacco control, it is disingenuous to describe the year as progress in any way.
In all honesty, considering the available resources and the further evidence for effective alternatives to the political games that keep current tobacco policy so firmly anti-harm reduction, the last year has been a backward stumble.
In war, a mounting body count can be justified as a means of keeping score; in the inappropriately named tobacco wars, the flat numbers of those lost to smoking as a result of being denied the education that might have turned them toward smokeless tobacco or e-cigarettes, and the regulatory hurdles being constructed and fiercely maintained to make sure than people do not remove the blinders they have been forced to wear, can only mean this last year has been an abject failure.
But even amidst the tragedy, there are moments of such sublime stupidity that you have to laugh. In the release there is this wonderful passage which is a beautiful indicator of the mindset at work.
Some companies have sought to circumvent the ban on flavored cigarettes by introducing clove cigars that look and, according to news reports, taste like cigarettes. Vigilant monitoring and strict enforcement by the FDA are vital to ensuring that the law succeeds in reducing tobacco use and the industry does not succeed in evading it.
Let me get this straight. The company has been told to change their product so they do not taste like cloves. So, they modify their product so it does not taste like cloves or any sort of “candy” but like tobacco. This is considered evasion.
The lunatics truly are in charge.
And while they do provide laughs with their astonishing defiance of all reason, the sad thing is that the punch line to all their dated comedy routines is death on a scale that beggars comparisons with anything else.
-Paul L. Bergen