? ?
02 July 2009 @ 09:46 am
Smoking Regulation  
Historic anti-smoking legislation sped to final congressional passage last month, which will have sweeping changes in the industry. I'm torn. On the one hand, yes, I don't like how smokes are advertised in a way that entices younger people to try smoking, on the other hand, that's what advertising is supposed to do, bring in new customers. Sure, I'm all for making sure the health hazards of smoking are shown and known, on the other hand, there's no way to not know these things anymore. Yes, I want them to be regulated, on the other hand, I'm not a huge fan of the government telling me I can or cannot do something that only truly affects me. So, yeah, I'm torn on my thoughts.

Under the legislation:

- Cigarette packages will have warning labels that cover 50 percent of the front and rear. The word "warning" must be included in capital letters. - Like Denis Leary pointed out, it's not like we just haven't noticed. This is superfluous and obnoxious.
- Any remaining tobacco-related sponsorships of sports and entertainment events will be banned, as will giveaways of non-tobacco items with the purchase of a tobacco product. A federal ban will be imposed on all outdoor tobacco advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds. - But beer will still be allowed to host sports events? Alcoholism is just as bad, if not worse.
- Point-of-sale advertising will be limited to adults-only facilities, and remaining vending machines will disappear except in places restricted to adults. Retailers who sell to minors will be subject to federal enforcement and penalties. - Well, if you're gonna kill the ads, kill them all, I guess.
- Smokers, particularly the younger crowd, will find they can no longer buy cigarettes sweetened by candy flavors or any herb or spices such as strawberry, grape, orange, clove, cinnamon or vanilla. Cigarettes advertised as "light" or "mild," giving the impression that they aren't as harmful to health, will no longer be found on store shelves. - So, wait, I won't be able to smoke cloves anymore? I can see why you wouldn't want to market this to children, but what about the perfectly legal adults that enjoy these? Hey, you don't want us thinking that "lights" or "milds" are more healthy, fine, you're OMGHUGE warning should handle that. Maybe people just prefer the taste. Me, I've NEVER enjoyed regular cigarettes, not in any fashion. I do enjoy cloves, though. I smoked for a while and then quit smoking for a long time, and now I enjoy them in extreme moderation (a pack of cloves lasts me nearly a week). Now, if I know the health risk, and I'm a legal adult, why can I not do this? And, on that same note, why can one smoke regular tobacco cigarettes legally, additives and all, tar, chemicals, you name it, and still not be legally allowed to smoke clean, natural marijuana?

I see where they are going with it, and I can understand and agree with their reasoning, but, as usual with the government, I think they are going overboard on it. I guess we'll just have to see where it goes from here (as far as I know, it's not signed into law, yet). In the meantime, consider smoking alternatives. I have it on good authority that things like the Blu electronic cigarette work fabulously. Frankly, if they'd make a clove flavor, I'd consider it myself, even with as little as I really smoke.
Current Music: Siouxsie and the Banshees - Cities In Dust
kirkjerkkirkjerk on July 2nd, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)
That cloves thing pisses me the hell off. I'd have like a cigarette or two when hanging out with a smoker friend, and I liked cloves... this is true nanny state bullshit.
Ursula Messerschmitt: Cat-Angus-amusedsnobahr on July 2nd, 2009 05:05 pm (UTC)
I used to smoke about a pack of cloves a quarter (and that was when I was a "heavy" smoker)... My doctor always laughed at me, because when he'd ask if I smoke, I'd explain, quite truthfully, yes. About a cigarette a week, or if work was really horrendous, one a day, but that didn't go for more than a 5 day stretch. I went through about a pack a month of menthols, and a pack a quarter of cloves.

I just sent Blu a question about clove cartridges :)

(Deleted comment)
God of Thunder and Rock'n'Rollarchmage on July 2nd, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
Sure, that makes sense, and I respect that. At the same time, the whole idea of freedom means not only being able to do what you want to do, but dealing with the fact that everyone else can, too. I'm not saying that means one has to just 'suck it up and deal', because that's absurd. You should, of course, be reasonably protected from intrusion into your life and health. I'm right with you on that: drives me nuts when some jackass comes rolling up, 2am, stereo booming out some obnoxious load of sound. At the same time, we all have to live here, and we all need to get along. There's got to be a middle ground.

I think that is exactly the problem, that this won't work the way they want it to work, and meanwhile will have other consequences and backlash. Besides, when we start to make laws based on "well, I personally just don't like it!" then we're no longer a democracy.
(Deleted comment)
clarsaclarsa on July 3rd, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
A.S. Neill drew a distinction between what he called "freedom" and "license". Neill was very much in favor of freedom - that having to do with making your own choices and dealing with the consequences of your actions. "License" he defined as being free of consequences, and used it to refer to parents who never tell their children "no", smiling as they walk all over other people's furniture with their shoes on and handle things that aren't theirs: "A completely free child!" No madam, that is a brat!

I wish there could be a "don't be a jerk" law. Unfortunately, not only would some people not get that, say, playing loud music with the base turned all the way up at 2 a.m. is "being a jerk", but some people would insist that - real life example - flying a "peace" flag is being a jerk.

Jerks. (Random thought: what if the world were run by cats?)
(Deleted comment)
God of Thunder and Rock'n'Rollarchmage on July 2nd, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)
You should talk to voicetrack about them. He gave it a try and loved it, and he'd be able to answer questions better than I could. Tell him I sent ya his way.
clarsaclarsa on July 2nd, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
I think the key is informed consent. Unfortunately, that assumes an adult population capable of seeking and evaluating information, which is not something we have. Many people think, when it comes to research, weight equals volume. That is, if they see a lot of ads for tobacco products and very little information about the dangers, they figure they are proportionally safe.

Alcoholism is worse? Not buying it. With over four million tobacco-related deaths each year in this country, I think tobacco is worse.

Also not clear on the "only affects me" thing either. Kids whose parents smoke miss three times as much school, even if the parents don't smoke in the house or around the kids. Like asbestos, it gets in the clothes and hair, then into the furniture, the car, etc. And consider the insurance costs; treatment for lung cancer costs more than your premiums, so who's eating the difference? Plus, while I'm not impacted if my neighbors drink, I do get their cigarette smoke wafting from their patios in my windows (and their cigarette butts all over the walkway and lawn outside. Hooray for apartment living.)

As for the marijuana argument, yes, I think it should be as legal as tobacco.

As much as I dislike smoking, I have found that, when I get a migraine that's unresponsive to NSAIDs, muscle relaxers, and Vicodin, a couple of drags gives me instant relief, which lasts 20-30 minutes.

I don't think most of the people I hang with need that much nannying, but I was a teacher for a while and met lots of parents. I used to believe in government by the people -- until I met them.
God of Thunder and Rock'n'Rollarchmage on July 2nd, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, that assumes an adult population capable of seeking and evaluating information, which is not something we have.

I disagree. We have it, we're just too lazy to do it...and lazy isn't going to change no matter how big the ads are.

Alcoholism is worse? Not buying it.

Both kill users. Alcohol, however, connects to a lot more other deaths than tobacco does. I dunno about you, but I never hear about someone running over a pedestrian because he'd been smoking cigarettes.

Also not clear on the "only affects me" thing either.

Let me clarify, since I was couching this in the confines of the regulation. I'm not saying second-hand smoke isn't a problem, because it clearly is. No denying that. This regulation isn't going to change that, however. This is merely saying what I can or can't put into my own body, and if I want to put in an extra flavor, that should be my choice. Cigs are already regulated by age, removing flavor doesn't change that. The implication is that it's less likely to appeal to kids, but I also don't see ads that say " is juicy orange!" I don't see the Marlboro Man on his horse lifting his hat and going "Ah, glorious cherry flavor."
Steve Hutchisonfoomf on July 2nd, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
Two years old, but from the American Lung Association:
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women. An estimated 213,380 new cases of lung cancer and an estimated 160,390 deaths from lung cancer are expected to occur in the United States in 2007.

From, 2007 data on deaths from drunk driving:

Year Driving Fatalities Alcohol-related Percent
2007 41,059 15,387 37

Almost all lung cancer is caused by one of two things: Asbestos (relatively rare now) or tobacco use.
God of Thunder and Rock'n'Roll: AMPDarchmage on July 2nd, 2009 09:13 pm (UTC)
OK, noted.

However, I also submit that families don't get broken up and fall apart over someone's smoking. A few cigarettes rarely lead to abuse, or idiotic dares/bets/actions. I've never seen someone fall over, break something (personal or object), laugh, and say "wow, I must have had too many cigarettes!"
Steve Hutchisonfoomf on July 3rd, 2009 12:30 am (UTC)
I agree with you that alcohol abuse has a much more pervasive downside than tobacco abuse, though probably not by much.
Kellykwsapphire on July 3rd, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC)
Not all lung cancer is caused by smoking, and not all smokers get lung cancer.

I think that's why the warnings don't work. Obviously everyone who smokes has a "not me" mentality. "I wont get cancer." Who would smoke if they really admitted to themselves that it would lead to such a horrible disease with 100% certainty? And why can people fool themselves? Because for a lot of people, it's true. A lot of people can smoke and not get lung cancer.

So saying that there are 160k deaths from lung cancer and 15k deaths from alcohol related driving fatalities is ignoring a lot. It's ignoring that not all of those 160k got lung cancer from smoking. (And to be fair, it's ignoring the number of people who die from liver failure and other complications of heavy drinking. Which is probably a small number.)

So, while I agree that smoking does probably cause more deaths per year overall, I can't be sure the statistics are so skewed as the info you presented suggests.

As to the original topic, I understand the idea behind disallowing marketing to kids, however at this point I reject additional government involvement, period. The FDA is not interested in our health, regardless of what the government says. Every single other substance regulated by the FDA: If it is found to cause death, the FDA pulls it off the market. This is the one product that will be regulated by the FDA that is known to increase risk of death, but the FDA will allow it to stay on the market. This legislation effectively allows the government to turn a blind eye, because as you said this probably isn't going to have the desired effect, that is, to greatly reduce the amount of smokers.

Also, Alcohol isn't in and of itself addictive. People can get addicted to it, a lot of people do, but it's not the alcohol. People who become addicted to alcohol have addictive personalities, and could get addicted to any substance, or even gaming or the internet or gambling. Cigarettes, and IIRC even tobacco itself, is an addictive substance. It actually forces your body to crave the substance. It's not a mental addiction, it's a physical, chemical addiction - which is a whole 'nother ballgame.

So basically I disagree with this legislation, even though I know cigarettes can be dangerous, even though I know it's bad for kids to smoke, but I disagree with it because our government is already too big and already doesn't work, and this is just going to be another failure. Government gets bigger, and still fails to govern. It's up to PARENTS to make sure their kids don't smoke. It's up to PEOPLE to make responsible decisions about their health, and if they want to ignore the warnings, that's their business. (Though as has been stated above, people who don't want to be exposed to the smoke should be reasonably able to get away from it.)
Steve Hutchisonfoomf on July 3rd, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC)
Well... mostly I agree with you here, but we're dealing with measurable and countable things that are associated with very emotionally charged contexts.
I pulled up those numbers because I was thinking that Frank was mis-reading the statistics, and it made me curious. The numbers surprised me as well.
I think alcohol causes more deaths than just those from automobile accidents, though, and I wonder about the numbers they cited and where they got them.

For smoking, the significant majority (I've seen numbers cited at between 80 to 95 percent) of lung cancers are associated with environmental tobacco smoke. I researched historical disease rates for fiction writing, and historic causes of lung cancer have been asbestos and othe rmineral fibers (still quite bad in places), oil fires including lamps, and smog (like the killer fogs London used to get.) Cigarette smoke carries a double-punch. Besides lung, mouth, esophogeal, and stomach cancer, it is the primary cause of emphysema, which before tobacco smoking was almost unheard of, and is extremely rare in those places where tobacco isn't smoked.

The FDA _is_ interested in our health by the very nature of its charter. It was created because of the huge amount of medical quackery (snake oil and "patent medicines" and medical "treatments" that had no basis in reality. That, and foods that were adulterated with fillers and poisons.)
Because they're a government agency, politics affect everything they do and Congress is always sticking its dick OAR in the water and messing things up. In addition to the special protected status that Tobacco has had for years, there is the whole ludicrous War On Drugs, and the arbitrary and often absurd restrictions on categories of medicines and what they can be used for. Steroids, for instance, are one of my major gripes. They're not a medical hazard, they're a social issue.

The diagnostic standards manual (DSM IV) doesn't actually list "addictive personality" as a specific disorder. There are specific addictions with associated diagnoses (compulsive gambling is listed among impulse-control disorders). The phrase is used a lot by non-psychologists and pop-psychologists.
I try to avoid it, because it seems imprecise and prejudicial, and I can't find any data showing how it's identified or how prevalent it is.

Alcohol can be physiologically addictive, but only in regular heavy drinkers whose bodies have adapted to the presence of the alcohol. (Because the liver is "expecting" to see alcohol it makes enzymes to break down the alcohol, and they're slightly toxic without the alcohol to work on. The symptom is a sensation of illness, anxiety, and panicky feeling.)

I've seen numbers from AA saying that about 1/4 of the population can be physically addicted to alcohol, but I don't know where they got the numbers. I also think that there is a genetic component to what alcohol does to behavior; having been raised on a reservation, I have seen it in action. ribal members (or non-tribal members whose "indian blood" was below the threshold for membership) were more likely to show greater loss of impulse control when drinking a small amount. There are confounding factors - it could be poverty and the "poverty diet" influencing this.

In any case, you're right that tobacco (nicotine especially) is MUCH MORE physiologically addictive than alcohol.

I think the legislation addresses specific abuses that the tobacco industry has been committing: the misleading "lite=safer" advertising, the "smoking is cool and grown-up" that was inserted into movies and advertising, and the specific marketing of "soda pop" cigarettes in areas with higher concentration of under-30s smokers, the population who already mistakenly think they're immortal.

I dislike it because it's reactionary, insulting, and muddled thinking that will do more to annoy than to help. I dislike the majority of the "anti-recreational" drug regulations coming from the "we know better than you" mindset.
There ARE people who become addicted to very dangerous drugs that destroy them, but currently, this is a problem arising mostly from poverty, unemployment, and a sense of powerlessness.
clarsa: photoclarsa on July 3rd, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
Alcohol, however, connects to a lot more other deaths than tobacco does.

According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2001 tobacco was responsible for approximately six times as many US deaths as alcohol. The report does go into detail about how deaths were counted and yes, the sober pedestrian hit by a drunk driver is counted.

CDC also calculates years of life lost (YLL) and estimates that tobacco is responsible for twice as many YLL as alcohol - a much smaller number than the 6x factor for deaths. This is reflective of the sudden and dramatic nature of many alcohol related deaths (as in your traffic-accident illustration) in contrast with older people coughing up blood clots and slowly drowning in their own lungs in hospitals, hospices, and nursing homes.

I knew you wouldn't except "nuh-uh!" for an answer without documentation, so I did my homework before responding. Damn you're a hard grader sometimes. ;)

I think it's funny that the feds seem to assume that "fun flavors" equals "marketing to children". Because, y'know, it's not like people in their 30s and 40s like cherry or clove. I think they assume we're stodgier than we are.

On the other hand, illegal sales can finally branch out from just marijuana and the harder stuff to the tobacco market. Grow a little tobacco in your sun room. Mix up your own flavoring agent for your curing process. I have a number of entrepreneurial friends who stand to profit greatly from this legislation. Nice of the government to support the independent businessman, don't you think?
Steve Hutchisonfoomf on July 3rd, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
The 'marketing to children' was revealed by the papers the feds got from the tobacco companies. They did actually focus-market the fruit-flavored cigs on college campuses and near high schools, and the internal memos said that the intention was to reach 'future smokers'.

Before that, cherry and apple flavors were pretty much limited to pipe tobacco, which was more of a "grandpa" market.
Exhalations into the Etherdragon_smoke on July 2nd, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
Marlboro Lights are going away?
Steve Hutchisonfoomf on July 2nd, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
Clove cigs have been illegal in many places, and should be illegal anyway. The oils in cloves actually cause blistering of the lung's mucosa much like mustard gas, and are significantly more carcinogenic than ordinary tobacco smoke. Besides which they're a LOT more likely to trigger asthma attacks in innocent bystanders up to 50 feet away (he says from experience.)

And to anyone who whines that this is nanny-state thinking: it used to be possible to buy arsenic pills as beauty supplies. They make your hair smooth and shiny. People didn't think they were harmful. The same thing goes for cloves. I have been told to fuck off because if they were dangerous they wouldn't be selling them.

Anyone who needs to smoke a flavored cigarette should be buying loose tobacco and rolling their own anyway. That means you can actually control the contents.
Kellykwsapphire on July 3rd, 2009 02:24 pm (UTC)
I agree, hand rolled cigs are far safer.. tobacco is still terrible, but at least then you're *just* getting tobacco, instead of all the other nasty chemicals that get put into cigs these days...
clarsaclarsa on July 3rd, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC)
In the medical abstracts indexed by the National Institute of Health (NIH; there are articles the tobacco industry had to publish in order to get the FDA to approve the addition of ammonia to cigarettes. This makes them more toxic and more addictive - but that's not what the industry reports say. So yeah, commercially produced cigarettes now mostly contain ammonia as well as all the other crap. That couldn't possibly hurt your lungs, right?

I usually have a horrible reaction to cigarette smoke. I went to a friend's place and she was smoking American Spirits, and I barely noticed.

P.S. I got all inspired and put a research paper in my lj, comparing number of tobacco-related deaths (c. 440,000 or 18.1%) to deaths related to poor diet and inactivity (c. 365,000 or 15.2%) to deaths related to alcohol (c. 76,000 or 3.2% and yes that covers traffic accidents, including victims who were not drinking, as well as cirrhosis and other alcohol related diseases). I also threw in comparison of $ spent on the anti-terror wars, $ spent on anti-smoking education, $ spent on tobacco advertising, and $ spent on tobacco products. It got to be quite the epic, so I put it on mine instead of stealing archmage's space.