May 31, 2004

Banning Flavor

A proposed bill that will expand the powers of government (in this case, the FDA) over business (in this case the tobacco industry) is being promoted as being, you guessed it...for the children. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, sponsored by Ted Kennedy and Ohio's own invisible Senator Mike DeWine, purports to help protect our children from the rapacious tobacco industry:

"This bill will help keep our children away from tobacco products and protect them from being targeted by the tobacco industry."

This will be accomplished in part by banning flavored cigarettes, because such brands are "more appealing" to children. Reason Online's Jacob Sullum discloses the dirty little secret behind the flavored cigarette ban:

It's just a happy coincidence that Philip Morris, one of the bill's main backers, does not manufacture cigarettes with any of the prohibited flavors—although it does make menthol cigarettes, which are specifically exempted from the ban.

By contrast, Brown & Williamson, which opposes FDA regulation, last March started selling four flavored varieties of its Kool brand: Caribbean Chill, Midnight Berry, Mocha Taboo, and Mintrigue. R.J. Reynolds, which also has resisted Philip Morris' strategy of cozying up with federal bureaucrats, has been selling Camel "Exotic Blends" such as Crema, Dark Mint, Izmir Stinger, and Twist since 1999.

Both companies insist their specially flavored varieties (which cost substantially more than the regular versions) are aimed at adult smokers. Tellingly, anti-smoking activists say that doesn't matter, because teenagers aspire to be like the young adults the cigarette makers are targeting. By this standard, any age-restricted product that appeals to minors is suspect, even if it has a thriving market among adults.

Nicotine addiction is almost as powerful a force as government's addiction to tobacco tax dollars. This monster of an industry must be kept just strong and profitable enough to continue to pay the billions in tobacco lawsuit settlement fees to our state governments.

I'm wondering if the government has any scientific studies showing that if children don't have access to say, clove flavored cigarettes, they would be any less likely to smoke something (anything?) else.

Didn't think so.

(via The Corner)

Posted by dan at May 31, 2004 10:13 PM