The FDA and Tobacco: Questions about the landmark regulation bill

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Last week Congress passed a bill that gave the FDA regulating authority over tobacco.The president is sure to sign it.It is supposed to be a blow to the tobacco industry and their advertising efforts.No more flavored tobacco or “light cigarette” claims.

But I have a few questions:

  • Will cigarettes now be safer?
  • Will this make people stop smoking, or will this just be another bloated, unproductive bureaucracy?

If it does work, I wonder where Congress is going to raise the money they lose.  Tobacco has been an easy target for the federal or state government when they need to raise some extra cash.They just tax tobacco more.  Smokers fuss but don’t stop buying.One pack of cigarettes cost $9.00 now in New York, with more than half of that being taxes.

We’ve sued tobacco, banned advertising, raised taxes, humiliated the CEOs in congressional hearings and given dire warnings that tobacco causes everything from cancer to impotence. Tobacco use is lower than before we started in the ’60s. But it’s like illegal drugs: Some people continue to buy. Do we start punishing the smokers in some fashion? We are, above all, a free society.

Do you have suggestions or comments?

Note: Here’s the New York Times article on the topic. Details about the bill and new regulations start in paragraph seven.

James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H., is the publisher of My Family Doctor, a magazine written by health-care providers for the general public.

Picture courtesy National Cancer Institute/Bill Branson.

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As with all information on this site, this article cannot replace professional, personal medical advice. Read more here.

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6 Responses to “The FDA and Tobacco: Questions about the landmark regulation bill”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    Our society seems to feel we have every right to our addictive privileges. The question I have is can we afford them?

    Dr. Js last blog post..People aren’t smart when it comes to their bodies

  2. Sagan Says:

    We should move on to taxing fast food, too.

    Sagans last blog post..Guest Post: Avoid Eye Diseases by Eating Right

  3. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Dr. J, Good point.

    James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.s last blog post..The Secrets Doctors Don’t Tell You About Prescription Medicine

  4. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Sagan, I imagine that’s in the plan.

    James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.s last blog post..The Secrets Doctors Don’t Tell You About Prescription Medicine

  5. Gary Patton Says:

    Hey Dr. James;

    Thank you for your wise observation. When I quit 2 1/2 large packs of Players Plain cigarettes on Feb.21, 1984 at 2:30 a.m. I did so because of a powerful motivation.

    “Smoke Enders”, who I believe invented effective smoking cessation, taught me three things for my $650 based on their 25+ years of experience:
    1. My motivation had to be emotionally powerful and my own.
    2. Health reasons were not a sufficient motivator on their own, and
    3. It’s easy to quit. Smokers do it regularly & start again. I was choosing to become a non-smoker!

    Their advice worked! At your $9 price for a package, the return on my investment of $650 was about $240,000 over the last 25 years …assuming I lived.(I just had a wonderful picture jump to mind. It was one of me setting a huge pile of 240,000 dollar bills on fire as a smoker!)

    You asked for suggestions. Powerful motivation is required to get humans to give up their addictions. (And I understand nicotine addiction is on a par with heroine addiction.) I may sound cruel but eliminate smoking-related health problems from coverage under our medical insurance in the U.S. & CAN might be the motivations some need to make a healthier choice successfully.

    @GaryFPatton in Toronto

  6. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Thanks Gary for the insight into your success.

    James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.s last blog post..The Secrets Doctors Don’t Tell You About Prescription Medicine

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