Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Pass the Lighter

At the same time the UK is moving toward decriminalization of marijuana, the U.S. government seems to be moving toward the criminalization of cigarettes. Ever more anti-tobacco civil cases are being allowed, and it's not merely the veteran smokers of 40 years who started the habit after seeing physicians doing Benson & Hedges commercials on black and white TV. Now even people who smoke lights are deciding they can cash in in court. The most recent lawsuit alleges that cigarette companies falsely represented low tar cigarettes as healthier than their extra tar brands. It seems that for several reasons low tar cigarettes aren't significantly healthier, the main reason being that smokers smoke more and inhale deeper with lights to get the same effect they'd get with double tar delight. But when lights were first introduced, no one knew that. Not only did cigarette companies represent lights as being healthier, so did the U.S. Surgeon General Julius Richmond (in 1981) as did any number of other public health advocates. How many doctors have pleaded with their patients over the last few decades: If you're going to smoke - at least switch to lights! Quite a few, I'd say. Are we going to sue them all for malpractice as well?

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