Let's just call a spade a spade. For 40 years we've known that these things called cigarettes are death sticks. Meaning: if you smoke consistently for years, some how, some way, smoking will undoubtedly lead to death.
Our government has no problem cracking down and halting the sale of prescription based or OTC drugs that have this effect. It also demonstrates very little passive aggressive behavior in removing products that pose serious health hazards to the public (like lead paint, asbestos, arsenic, etc.).
Yet, a product that has been PROVEN (even in moderate amounts) to cause lung cancer, stroke, heart attacks, emphysema, and countless other terminal diseases (read today's NY Times about women and COPD), can still be sold to adults freely. What a crock of…
Yes, I know that tobacco is a multi-billion dollar industry with powerful lobbying forces. And, it's also crystal clear that because of the addictive nature of nicotine, millions of smokers would go ballistic if the product was suddenly banned altogether. Realistically, these and other forces will prevent this monumental change from taking place (at least anytime soon).
But, just for fun, I'd like to pretend for a moment that I'm new to this earth and have just learned about cigarettes and their health impact on humans for the first time. Thus, all the cool and hip marketing and cultural biases that I've grown up with surrounding cigarettes don't exist. The obvious, most basic question I would ask myself is – if I care about living, why in the world would I ever start smoking (rhetorical question)?
The answer would be just as obvious. I wouldn’t. I might as well chug a bottle of vodka every day, or sprinkle lead paint into my food. The long term end result would be the same.