Big Tobacco's triumph
There are steps that will shrink the smokers' ranks. First, impose tough taxes on all tobacco products. The United States has virtually the lowest excise taxes in the world, yet we know that cost is a huge disincentive to tobacco use. Every 10 percent increase in price brings a 5 percent decrease in use for adults and a whopping 7 percent reduction for teens. Second, regulate with teeth. Why not let the FDA pull products off the market as "safer" replacements hit the shelves? Don't deny addicts their fix, but stop the trickery of candy-coated additives.
U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona startled a recent congressional hearing by saying that no cigarette is a safe cigarette and that they all deserve to be banned. Tobacco executives were shocked, just shocked, and the administration promptly disavowed his comments. As for luring kids to the chewing game, the surgeon general was equally clear: "No way! Bad health! Tough to quit! Very disgusting!" Bravo, Dr. Carmona. A breath of fresh air.