Smoking is bad m’kay? I’m calling this travel related because I was blow away by the images I saw on cigarette packages in some of the places I visited in Asia. I used to smoke over a pack a day. I was in a tough place financially and was having some health problems that smoking would have compounded. I quit for a few reasons, but the real deal maker was how much money I had spent over the years on cigarettes. I asked myself a simple question…would I rather have had the ~$7,000 that I had spent on smoking in the last few years, or all the cigarettes I had ever smoked? Making the decision to quit was easy, and I noticed almost immediate rewards. I felt better overall, had more energy, got sick less, and started a little rainy day fund that has allowed me to do some pretty cool stuff. At this point, had I never quit smoking I’d have spent enough on cigarettes to buy a brand new car. Aside from being highly addictive, I wonder how this type of thing becomes accepted by the mainstream. Further than that, I wonder how anyone can defend it with a clear conscience. There’s no debate: Smoking is bad for your wallet and your health…even smokers won’t argue that!
I saw the warnings and thought “This is such a great idea, why don’t we have these in America?” Well, after finding out about new legislation being proposed, I don’t have to wonder any more. The FDA is considering a similar label system. You can see the proposed labels for yourself in the link to the FDA site, but I’ve got to say they’re pretty namby-pamby compared to the labels I saw in other countries, and the real threats that people who smoke face. Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and I’m sure other countries portray a much more accurate image of what smoking does to you. So much for being a global leader in this department, but at least we’re making progress.
FDA is seeking public comment on the proposed rule from Friday, November 12, 2010 through Tuesday, January 11, 2011. To submit an official comment during this time period:
* Go to www.regulations.gov and insert docket number FDA-2010-N-0568 into the “search” box and follow the prompts.
* Send a fax, with your comments, to 301-827-6870.
* Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for paper, disk, or CD-ROM submissions) to the Division of Dockets
Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.
All comments should be identified by Docket ID No. FDA-2010-N-0568. It is only necessary to send one set of comments.
One aspect of the new proposals that I had not initially considered is the impact on taxes…that’s money that funds good things (then again, money saved because more people will be healthy can also be spent on good things). It seems awfully unfortunate that states will be in a position where they must debate legislature that will will inform the public at the cost of their own income. I’m interested to see where this goes…I just hope that they follow through and do the right thing. I also hope the FDA doesn’t wuss out and require the sunshine and butterflies version of these labels. Time will tell.
As you might expect, the cigarette companies aren’t too happy about this. According to CNN (paraphrased), David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., has said the warnings violate the company’s First Amendment rights of commercial, free speech. “Seizing half of our packaging, devaluing our trademarks, we’re challenging that,” he said.
I’m all for free speech. In fact, I encourage it. I’m not sure why these companies still think it’s the early 1900’s where tobacco use was believed to be harmless. I have a message for the fancy-pants cigarette lawyers and spokespeople: I empathize with your concerns about image, but I hate to be the bearer of bad news…your image sucks because your product sucks. You’re worried about a little label devaluing your trademarks? You should be concerned about the people dying of a variety of cancers and other health related problems…that’s your real brand killer there. Give me a break, the FDA isn’t trying to say smoking will give you AIDS. It’s not as if the public is unaware that your product is unhealthy. You already have an unfair advantage in that your product is addictive, and I know from first-hand experience that people who want to smoke will still smoke even with the warnings (Perhaps because they are hopelessly addicted? Are you worried that people will think twice about picking up that first cigarette?). So my question to you is this: How can you defend free speech while trying to silence an entity attempting to educate the public to the horrors of a bad product?
Then again, if you’re really worried all you have to do is put a picture of this guy on the other side of the cigarettes and I’d bet your sales will instantly double. Heck, just watching this makes me want to smoke…I bet all the girls would want to kiss my ash tray lips if I could do this: