Don’t give them any ideas

In a talk earlier this year, I pointed out that FDA will have the option of choosing to do anything they want to lower the quality of cigarettes if they interpret their mandate as allowing anything that reduces the population risk from smoking.  By that standard, for example, menthol can be banned even if it does not cause any direct harm to the individual smoker (i.e., it is no more harmful than smoking an equivalent amount of non-menthol cigarettes) because it increases the quality of the product for some smokers.  Anything that decreases the net quality will decrease consumption and (so long as the quality decrease was not by way of increasing the health effects) thus decrease the health effects at a population level.  (This is the observation that inspired my “prediction” about the demand to add dog feces to cigarettes and our resulting contest — which is still taking entries if you want.)

Given this observation, smokers had better hope that no one in the FDA tobacco division reads The Onion.  I am sure they could come up with something similar.

And it is probably also good that the previous administration did not get The Onion’s idea, or they might have just mandated that very product change (which would have provoked interesting reactions from the faction that seems to think that more national government regulation of personal behavior and consumer products  is always a good thing).


– Carl V. Phillips

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